[Photo: Examining the damage to the building on East Elwood Avenue after part of the brick collapsed.]
By Ken MacDonald • Publisher • A building that has stood on East Elwood Avenue for well over 100 years dropped a huge portion of its brick veneer into a pile of rubble on the sidewalk Monday afternoon.
Built as early as 1906, but definitely by 1912, the structure at 112 East Elwood was erected by the Heins Telephone Company (later bought by Carolina Telephone), says Kermit Wood, whose family owned it and operated a furniture store there for decades. “I’ve really been around the building since I was 13 years old, probably.”
Wood even lived in the building after World War II, from 1945-1948. His grandfather, J. Luther Wood, who had been selling furniture from his porch in Timberland, bought the building and opened what turned out to be a very popular furniture store.
“I stayed in the window first window in the alley there upstairs. And I told everybody talking to them in years, every bus that came into Raeford came right under that window right there—all night long. There was no bypass out here. 15-A came in Central Ave down to the bus station, down on Main Street. The buses would come in there, take a right, go up to the bank building, take a right, go down to Racket Alley and take a right, right under our bedroom window. And go down there and parallel park.
“The buses ran all night long—soldiers on them.”
Wood says his father ran the main laundry at Fort Bragg during the war. “As soon as the war ended he moved us back to Raeford. I started back in the third grade and we lived over the store from the third grade on.
“During the war on the weekends my father didn’t have to work so we’d come back to Raeford and go back to the farm where we’d left from. My father and I would come back to Raeford to the store down there, and stay there with my grandfather until he closed. And I have been sitting there before and the cops would come by at 12 o’clock and tell my grandfather that it was Sunday and he’d have to close up.
“Business was like that back then. Those people, those tenant farmers didn’t get to Raeford until the weekend, and when they’d come, they’d stay all day. The lot back where the auto parts is now— that place would be full of horse and wagons, and those people wouldn’t leave until midnight.”
Over the years the building has housed quite a few businesses, including Candlestick Crafts in the early ‘90s.
Today it houses a church. The building’s current owners, William Fields and Regina Sutherland, on Tuesday had workers removing debris and installing plastic to cover the exposed wood. Fields said the building will be repaired.
Wood speculated that the bricks fell because brick ties weren’t used in original construction. He said as was the case with the recently-razed McLauchlin Hardware Building across the street, the veneer lacked the ties that hold the bricks to wood planks beneath, though in the hardware store’s case, there were metal stars attached to rods for that purpose.