The History of Downtown Retail Presented by The Palm Beach Post

October 2007
The History of Downtown Retail
Presented by The Palm Beach Post
and the Delray Beach Historical Society
Atlantic Avenue Businesses
- as recalled by area historians and authors Sandy Simon,
Lora Sinks Britt and Cecil and Margoann Farrar
The late 1890s: Henry Sterling established Linton’s first
commissary. The building consisted of one large, first-floor
room used exclusively for the commissary and three rooms
upstairs which served as living quarters – Incomparable
Delray Beach, C. and M. Farrar
W.J. and Florence Cathcart (early 1900s): W.J. opened a
store where he sold hardware, cutlery, dishes, pots and
pans, wagon parts, tools, kerosene and other necessary
household commodities. Next door, in the same building,
Florence had a store for the ladies where she sold yard
goods, thread, edging of fine embroidery, ribbons and those
“unmentionables” that ladies would never have bought
except from another of their own sex. – My Gold Coast,
Lora Sinks Britt (page 118)
Downtown Delray from 1924 on: Mrs. Ethel Sterling
Williams eventually would own most of the entire block of
stores between the railroad and Southeast Second Avenue,
including during the 1940s, a laundry on the east end near
the railroad, later a restaurant named Ken and Hazel’s, my
Uncle Sam’s fruit market, my Uncle Johnnie’s Tropical
Market, Billings Fish Market and the chicken and egg store.
– Remembering: A History of Florida’s South Palm Beach
County 1894-1998, Sandy Simon (page 10)
Allen’s Five and Dime Store (the 1940s): We could buy
candy, small toys, funny glasses with a mustache and nose.
We could find games
and we could actually
buy authentic handmade
slingshots made from the
fork-shaped small limb
of a guava tree. … Mr.
Sam H. Allen Sr. was
the owner. The store
was located on East
Atlantic Avenue where Allen’s Five and Dime Store, circa 1940’s
Vince Canning’s Shoe Store is today. … During the 1920s,
Mr. Allen started a grocery store with E.H. Scott. The
store’s name was S. H. Allen & Company. In 1936, Mr.
Allen sold that business to the A&P Company and opened
his dime store. – Remembering, Sandy Simon (page 66)
Gloria’s: Gloria and Hackney (Allen) owned and operated
“Gloria’s,” a successful ladies clothing store on Atlantic
Avenue for many years until the malls came to South Palm
Beach County and drew the customers away from downtown.
– Remembering, Sandy Simon (page 66)
Cars in 1947: “New cars weren’t built during World War II
from 1942-1946 so (my father) bought a gleaming new
1947 four-door Chrysler from Joe Rose, Delray’s Chrysler
dealer, for the extraordinarily high price of $2,500.”
– Remembering, Sandy Simon
TV comes to Delray: “In 1952, television came to town.
The first set sat in the front window of Atlantic Electric’s
Inc.’s showroom on East Atlantic and everybody went to
see it, standing outside on the sidewalk gazing at the
television set.” – Remembering, Sandy Simon (page 86)
Rhoden Building Circa 1910:
One of the first masonry
vernacular commercial
buildings on the Avenue.
Owned by the Robert Rhoden
family, it is one of the oldest
remaining buildings in Delray
Beach and is currently home
to the Bull Bar.
Rhoden Building, Circa 1910
West Settlers District Businesses
-as recalled by city historian Vera Farrington
The area on Southwest 5th Avenue
between Atlantic Avenue and 4th
Street was named Frog Alley by the
early settlers, who were primarily
from the Bahamas. At Southwest
5th Avenue and 3rd Street, on the
NE corner of the street, was a
haberdashery/sundry/bakery, owned
and operated by a black family, Jim
and Della Freeman.
Fred Monroe’s Taxi Cab
On the west side of 5th Avenue
between 1st and 2nd Streets
was a grocery store black owned
and operated by a black family
headed by John Young. On the west The Hot Dog Hovel
side of 5th Avenue and 1st Streets
was a black-owned fruit/vegetable market. (Walter
Thompson). It has since been converted into a church.
On the SW corner of 5th and Atlantic Avenues (now
vacant), Marie and Joe Reynolds, a black couple, owned
and operated businesses in a two-story building. Downstairs
were two stores – one was a barbershop; the other was a
billiards and games store. Upstairs were rental rooms.
Day laborers gathered in front of the building to become
selected for work.
NE Second Avenue Businesses
Headlines in the 1950’s in the Delray
Beach Journal heralded the “fast
growing N.E. Second Ave.” This
commercial district consisted of four
blocks bounded by Atlantic Ave. on the
south and Lake Ida Road on the north.
Pierce Tire - photo courtesy
of MacLaren Signs
In the first block north of Atlantic
Ave. were the distinctive shapes of the two Quonset arched
steel buildings which made up Pierce Tire. Several chain grocery
stores such as Winn Dixie, Kwik Chek, A. & P., and Publix were
located in this area. Other business included Toddle Town,
a children’s store; dry cleaners, and photography studios. In 1954
Swift Cleaners, which had been a dry cleaning business in
Palm Beach County since 1925, announced a new plant on
the street. The street was considered an auxiliary street to U.S. 1.
By the 1980’s, N.E. Second Ave. was in decline. A few
local business owners and residents got together and decided
to infuse the district with some charm by naming it “Pineapple
Grove.” In 1988 the name of the street was officially changed
to Pineapple Grove Way. Today most of the buildings have
been renovated, new urban-style townhouse residences
have been built, and public art projects help the district
maintain its character as an arts district.
Heritage Month Activities
Saturday, September 22
Spady Living Heritage Day
Spady Cultural Heritage Museum, Old South demonstrations,
interactive exhibits, musical performances, food vendors and
children’s activities. 170 NW 5th Ave. 279-8883, 10am to
10pm, Free admission.
Learning to make a broom
A kettle of lye soap
Wednesday, October 3
The Delray Beach Historical Society
Opens its new exhibit, “Mid-Century Signs of Commerce,”
featuring historical images of current downtown retail locations
and shopping venues. Reception sponsored by Bob Miller
State Farm Insurance. 1926 Bungalow, 3 NE First Street,
243-2577, 5:30 to 7:30pm.
Saturday, October 6
Delray Beach Public Library
presents Hispanic Heritage
Month Reception, open to
all with food, music etc from
3-5pm at the Library. The
exhibit on the 2nd floor
Gallery of the Library is on
display 9/25 - 11/6. 266-0194.
Saturday, October 13
Ride & Remember
Historic Trolley Tour Series
presented by the Delray
Beach Historical Society and
the Spady Cultural Heritage
Museum. Departing from
Cason Cottage, 3 NE 1st St.
All ages. 279-8883. 10am,
$15 per person; $12 for
members of The Spady
Museum and DBHS.
Hispanic Heritage Month Artists
Atlantic Avenue Bridge
Saturday, October 13
Sister Cities Golf Classic
Sister Cities of Delray Beach presents the 2007 Golf Classic
“The Mayors’ Challenge” at the Delray Beach Golf Club.
Proceeds benefit Sister Cities of Delray Beach student exchange
programs. Registration forms are available at Delray Beach
City Hall lobby. 2200 Highland Ave., 243-7011.
Sunday, October 14
Multi Cultural Festival
Pine Grove Elementary Park, 400 SW 10th St., music, food,
games and entertainment celebrating cultures of the Southwest
Neighborhood Associations, Noon-5pm, 243-7280.
Thursday, October 18
Art & Jazz on the Avenue
Enjoy the sights and sounds
of Atlantic Avenue featuring
historic photos in celebration
of Heritage Month. Enjoy
entertainment, open house
Arcade Tap Room
specials, meet artists from the
Fine Art Galleries and more! 279-1380, ext. 3, 6-10pm.
Wednesday, October 24
Passport to Japan Food and Sake Tasting
at The Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens. Young
professionals in their 20s-40s are invited to the second
annual Passport to Japan, a unique Japanese food, sake and
wine event. 4000 Morikami Park Road.
495-0233 ext. 240. 6-9 p.m.
October 27
Delray GreenMarket
opens for its 12th season
with trick-or-treating
and pumpkin carving
demonstrations. Worthing
Park, 150 E. Atlantic Ave.
276-7511, 8am to 1pm
every Saturday in
season. Free admission
Tomatoes heading
North via F.E.C.
October 27
Narrated Bus Tour of
Historic Delray Beach
presented by The
Museum of Lifestyle
and Fashion History.
Departs from Delray
Beach Public Library.
Pre-paid advance
reservations are
243-2662. 11am.
The Colony Hotel
Through Sunday
October 28
National Collage
Society’s 23rd
Annual Juried
Exhibition and
Art Quilts by the
Manhattan Quilters
Guild. Cornell Museum,
Old School Square,
51 N. Swinton Ave.,
Delray Beach
Historical Society
Quilt Section by Sandra Sider,
exhibit curator for MetroTextural:
Art Quilts from the
Manhattan Quilters Guild
3 & 5 NE 1st Street, 243-2577.
Historic house museum that offers
visitors a rare glimpse at daily life
from 1915 to 1935.
Delray Beach Playhouse
950 NW 9th Street, 272-1281
A fully equipped 238 seat theater
overlooking scenic Lake Ida.
Delray Beach Public Library
100 W. Atlantic Ave., 266-0194.
Extensive book & media collections,
programming for all ages, electronic
info. and volunteer opportunities.
Milagro Center
340 SW 6th Ave., 279-2970.
An arts-integrated educational
and cultural arts program for
at-risk children ages 6 to 12.
Morikami Museum
and Japanese Gardens
4000 Morikami Park Rd., 495-0233.
Experience the essence of a century
of Japan at South Florida’s biggest
celebration of Japanese art & culture.
Museum of Lifestyle
and Fashion History
The Museum offers retrospective &
anthropology exhibits showcasing
lifestyle, history, cultures, people, places,
fashion, architecture, furnishings &
Old School Square
Cultural Arts Center
51 N. Swinton Ave., 243-7922
Houses the Cornell Museum of Art
& History, Crest Theatre, Old
Gymnasium and outdoor pavilion.
Spady Cultural
Heritage Museum
170 NW 5th Ave., 279-8883
Dedicated to discovering, collecting
and sharing the African-American
history and heritage of Florida.
Sandoway House
Nature Center
142 S. Ocean Blvd., 274-7263
1936 historical house now home to
live animals, a coral reef shark pool
& a world-class shell collection,
weekly nature programs and shark
Heritage Month is sponsored by
Weiner and Aronson, P. A.
Celebrating the 16th anniversary
of the renovation of The Clark House
Clark House, circa 1898. Vernacular Style
As the office for Michael S. Weiner’s law firm, the house has served the
purpose of being the incubator for many of the business concepts
which ultimately revitalized downtown Delray Beach, Florida. The first
gathering of the Pineapple Grove support group was in Mr. Weiner’s
conference room. The first of the new wave of upscale restaurants,
Damiono’s, was a plan hatched at the house. The first meetings
involving Art and Jazz on the Avenue were convened within its
four walls.
It is only fitting that the 107 year old residence serve this purpose of
birthing winning strategies. In the decades prior to its decline, it was
the house of Coach Clark, the coach for Delray High School’s football
team. The team was a powerhouse under the Coach’s tutelage. In a
hometown approach, the Coach would cook up his plays on the front
porch and hold his team meetings in the backyard.
Weiner & Aronson, P.A. is a proud sponsor of Cultural Heritage Month
and is proud of the past history of the Clark House. Delray Beach, Florida
will continue to use that hometown spirit to improve the City and
create an atmosphere of brotherhood and friendship between all who
wish to live within its borders.
Heritage Month is presented by
Downtown Marketing Cooperative
•City of Delray Beach
•Community Redevelopment Agency
•Downtown Development Authority
•Greater Delray Beach Chamber of Commerce
Photos courtesy of Delray Beach Historical Society
Archives and Spady Cultural Heritage Museum
All information included in this brochure is
believed to be correct at the time of publication.