One of Metcalfe’s landmark structures is in the process of being restored to its original appearance. As the building begins to make its transformation, fond childhood memories are being revived.
For years, Metcalfe residents have been passing the faded “There is only one Orange Crush” sign on the side of the building at the corner of Reynolds and Broad streets. After years of being unoccupied and falling into ill repair, it is being restored by the Metcalfe Heritage Society.
Even though younger Metcalfe residents know the building as the “old brick store,” older ones remember when it was Horne Brothers Store, which sold general merchandise, buggies and wagons. The owners were J.W., Elmer, E.F. and O.S. Horne.
In the earliest days of Metcalfe, there stood a mercantile establishment owned by the Crenshaws. It stood across from the depot. The mercantile store burned down and the Crenshaws moved back to their home state of Florida, according to Elmer Horne, Jr.’s research with Metcalfe history archives.
Eventually, another store was built (circa 1919)where the Crenshaws’ mercantile store once stood. J.W. Horne built a brick store and it had a long-standing business and the building still stands today.
The National Register of Historic Places described the brick store this way: “a large brick building on the corner of Reynolds and Broad streets has fine brick detailing in saw tooth design above the windows and a low gable with a frame surface. The door is six panel and windows and doors have segmental arches.”
Elmer Horne Jr., the son of Elmer Horne Sr., one of the owners of the original Horne Brothers Store, is in his 90s but he remembered the structure as it looked during his boyhood.
He said, “Those windows were equipped with faux iron bars, wooden grills — which in fact — could be snapped like a twig but which were imbedded with the extremely delicate copper wires of an alarm system. It could be easily snagged by the monstrous rats which came shopping every night and sometimes triggered the alarm and woke the town up.
“And the front doors showed —maybe still show — the holes where an enterprising burglar attempted to drill out a panel.”
In a 1935 Thomasville Times-Enterprise article, the burglary was mentioned. It stated that sheriff’s deputies were seeking the burglar or burglars who broke into the store operated by Elmer Horne at Metcalfe, stole 15 sides of meat, 15 shoulders of meat and five 10 pound bags of sugar.
Horne also remembered the inside of the store. It originally had a roof on the front, allowing people to escape the sun or rain to play checkers, chew and spit— or just rest.
He said, “In cold weather, you went inside and sat around a cast iron wood stove, which would glow rosy red when the fire got too hot from slabs from the sawmill.”
Longtime residents and those who have moved away still keep the memories of Metcalfe close as well as its progress today.
Ozell “Booster” Williams said the store made quite an impression on him as he passed by it each day.
He said, “As a young boy, I was most impressed with the store’s red-brick appearance that was in stark contrast to all other surrounding buildings. It was the first store that I passed as I walked to school from 1938 to 1943.”
Williams also remembered when he and his family would visit downtown Metcalfe on Saturdays. It was the first of the three general stores he visited to browse and shop for his favorite snacks.
Cecelia B. Reichert has many fond memories of growing up in Mefcalfe. The “Orange Crush” sign on the side of the store was always there for clear directions.
“That store was the landmark in giving directions to my home. ‘There is only one Orange Crush’ was written on the side of the store facing the street that I lived on. I would always tell people to look for it,” said Reichert.
She is excited to view all the “new looks” her hometown is currently getting.
When Joan Holmes saw the pictures of the reconstruction progress on the store, she said, “This is so exciting. Metcalfe is coming to life. We can all be so proud.”
Reporter Susanne Reynolds can be reached at (229) 226-2400, ext. 1826.