Sunset Avenue, Asheboro

There are a number of early photographs of Sunset Avenue in Asheboro, but this crumpled snapshot dating circa 1920-1925 is one of my oldest.

Though the steet is full of model Ts and other classic vintages of automobile, it doesn’t appear to yet be paved; a dog is lazily ambling down the center of the street not far behind a horse-drawn wagon.

After World War I the original 1880s wooden “boomtown” storefronts were replaced by substantial brick buildings. At the east end of the street, the three buildings visible are, left to right: the Presbyterian Church, facing Worth Street and the courthouse, but visible between the P.H. Morris General Store at 100 Sunset Avenue and the Bank of Randolph at 15 South Fayetteville. My law office at 19 South Fayetteville is next; at the time it was the grocery and general mercantile business of W.D. Stedman and son Sulon Stedman.

The only other identifiable business is the Old Hickory Café, a restaurant started by the cooks of Asheboro’ s Company K upon their return from France in World War I. Company K was part of the Old Hickory Division during World War I; hence the name.

The Old Hickory began as a kind of diner, but gradually evolved into the “nice” place to eat downtown, when it moved to the Stedman building, to the 19 S. Fayetteville storefront, next door to the Capitol vaudeville theatre and several doors down from the Central Hotel. There it was a white-tablecloth-and-heavy-hotel-silver kind of place, where black waiters in white jackets served southern food cooked on woodstoves in the kitchen. The Old Hickory closed in 1956.

Its site on Sunset Avenue was taken over by Hasty’s Café, an establishment run by the Hasty brothers which had a dubious reputation because they also served alcohol (which was legal in Asheboro from the repeal of prohibition in 1933 to the passage of “local option” about 1953).

“Hasty’s Beer Joint” moved regularly, and had several locations in this general area. The last one was under 100 Sunset Ave., in the basement. Trade Street was back then the street of bars, which a bad reputation for shootin’s and stabbin’s.

There was a soda fountain in the Walgreen’s drug store where the Randolph Art Guild is now (a blur to the far right). The side of Walgreens actually opened on Sunset– it then fronted on the railroad tracks, facing the passenger station where Christians United Outreach Center is now.


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