Sumter saw rapid growth at turn of 20th century

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Sumter was experiencing an unprecedented period of growth in the 20th century. The Item assigned a reporter to canvass the city and report on any residential or commercial construction taking place. The reporter learned that many buildings were under construction or that plans were being made to begin the building of various structures.

The following article was published in February of 1906, giving readers an overview of the considerable number of edifices under construction. The report is reprinted in its entirety with a modicum of editing.

"It has been a noteworthy fact for more than a year that there are no desirable residences for rent in the city. The people have, through the force of necessity, been compelled to build houses of their own, and so together with the lumbermen, hardware dealers and building supply houses, the Building and Loan Associations of the city have, also, prospered. There are many houses that are now being remodeled and improved, and besides these, tenant houses, elegant homes, churches, factories and other buildings for commercial enterprises are in the process of construction and are indicated in the list given below.

"From interviews with the leading contractors of the city, the Item's reporter has learned that the following are the principal buildings that are now being erected for which plans have been made: the Courthouse, Presbyterian Church, Methodist Church, Methodist parsonage, J.J. Harby, et al, on Dugan Street; J.M. Harby, Church Street; H.J. Harby, Church and Calhoun streets; D.P. Kelly, Calhoun Street; Schwartz Bros., four houses on Hampton Avenue; Ebbie Wells, four houses on Wells Street; Mrs. Lowry, residence on Hampton Avenue; S.H. Edmunds, Calhoun and Harvin; H.W. Beall, Calhoun Street; Telephone Manufacturing Company, apartment house on Harvin Street; E.L. Witherspoon, residence on Magnolia Street; J.E. Whilden, three-story store at the corner of Dugan and Main streets; Neill O'Donnell, circular colonial residence, East Liberty Street; Episcopal Church, corner Main and Calhoun streets; The Consumer's Lumber and Fuel Co. warehouses near C.S.&N. depot in South Sumter; Mutual Ice Company, Dr. E. Mood Smith, residence, West Calhoun Street; S.J. Blackwell, residence Oakland Avenue; T.B. Jenkins, two stone houses on Oakland Avenue; T.E. Evans, two houses near the waterworks; Von-Oshen & Shirer, large additions to shops on Hampton Avenue; Col. Tom Wilson, residence on Broad Street; M.B. Randall, residence on Washington Street; Kennedy Bros., five houses near Supply Company; Bartlett Street Baptist Church, St. Anne's Catholic Church on East Liberty; J.H. Chandler, Church Street; Sam Pringle, residence on Dingle Street.

"At a conservative estimate, the buildings listed above will require the expenditure of more than $200,000, and there are numbers of other buildings in the process of construction not mentioned."

Source: Sumter Item Archives

Reach Sumter Item Archivist Sammy Way at waysammy@yahoo.com or (803) 774-1294.