Martin Luther King Boulevard when it was West Broad Street

 

Robin N. Reeves II

What is known as Martin Luther King Boulevard right here in the beautiful city of Savannah Georgia used to be West Broad Street. Imagine yourself walking down West Broad Street in the early 1900’s and seeing business’s owned by black people. In this paper I tend to show you the different businesses, their history, and where they are now. These businesses served as a big part in Savannah’s history. West Broad could be looked at as one of the iconic streets of Savannah, Georgia’s history because of the great businesses that were held there.

In the recent years there have been talks of revitalizing Martin Luther King Boulevard to its extraordinary ways when it was West Broad Street. In the early 1900’s, West Broad Street was a center for dark possessed organizations. Wage Earner Bank building was the most gainful bank in the whole US amid the initial third of the twentieth century. Later on it turned into the Guaranteed Insurance building where organizations were housed here even the Savannah Herald got its begin right here. Over the road from the Wage Earner Bank was Union Station was spotted there was a train warehouse that took individuals along the eastern seaboard and all through the south. Likewise the Ralph Mark Gilbert Museum was a bank at one point.

Savannah student of history paragon W.W. Law recalls the greater part of this and considerably all the more about the nobility of the individuals who streamed along West Broad Street in its eminence days. He identifies with me eventually prior about what he called the “jazz center point” of Savannah, an extend that ran, generally, from Alice Street to Gaston and on to Gwinnett Street, and which included various second-floor walk-ups possessed by cliques and social clubs, for example, the Young Adelphis, or at unattached structures, for example, Mckelvey-Powell Hall and the Masonic Temple. At close-by night spots, for example, the Silver Dollar Cafe, the whisky was great and the jazz hot.

Savannah’s 1902 Union Station remained on West Broad Street around four short pieces south of the Central of Georgia traveler terminal. It was constructed by the Savannah Union Station Company, which was claimed together and similarly by Southern Railway, the Plant System, and Seaboard Air-Line Railway. The building was planned by Frank P. Milburn, who additionally outlined Augusta’s Union Station, and in addition a few courthouses in Georgia. Milburn needed to work with a to a degree troublesome site on which the tracks would approach West Broad Street at a 45-degree plot. As opposed to having the front likewise calculated to the road, he decided to shape the building to fit the site. The result was a rhomboidal structure that set the front exterior along the walkway while skewing the sides to run parallel to the tracks. Union Station was annihilated in 1962 to clear a path for I-16 passageway inclines. Long lamenting the tremendous slash in the noteworthy streetscape that came about, Savannahians have as of late moved to supplant the inclines with an all the more fittingly scaled redevelopment.

In 1867 the Catholic Bishop of Savannah, Augustine Verot, was to a great degree worried about the instruction of black inside the group. He looked for assistance from the Sisters of St. Joseph of Lepuy, France, who had secured a school for black in Florida. At the point when the Sisters moved to Savannah, they initially made the Barry Male Orphan Asylum at Perry and Floyd boulevards and composed a school for youthful white young men. Before long the Sisters welcomed black youth  to go to the school too. Inside two years the Sisters needed an alternate area and school building. In 1870 Bishop Verot purchased Scarbrough House from the home of Margaret O’byrne and moved ahead to change over the chateau into a school building run by the Catholic Diocese. For a few years the Sisters taught adolescent youngsters furthermore opened a night school for grown-ups who were once subjugated.

In December of 1872 an understanding was made between St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, a dark area, and the Savannah Board of Education to rent the congregation’s parsonage for $300 for every year to be utilized as an issue for dark kids. Short of what after a year a blaze crushed the parsonage, inciting the leading group of training to rent the emptied Scarbrough House for $600 for every year.

At Scarbrough House James Porter, the first essential, and his staff made a model school. Notwithstanding a decently broadcasted absence of financing from the state, Porter moved forward with his vision for the future, and the 1875 school year started with 231 understudies, of which 229 went to the end-of-year shutting activities. In 1878 open lively donor George W.J. Derenne acquired Scarbrough House for $4,500. He quickly deeded the house to the City of Savannah-Board of Public Education. The deed particularly expressed that the reason for the property was “to instruct the offspring of African drop” in the essentials of perusing, composition and science. His compassion was apparent in the wording of the deed when Derenne insinuated African-Americans who “came among us not of their own movement nor for their own particular addition, and that they have, as an individual’s, been devoted.” The record additionally tended to the forethought and state of the office. It was the most extreme imperativeness that the leading bodies of training keep up the property or it would return to his beneficiaries.

At long last, with the authority underwriting of the leading body of instruction, the little school at Scarbrough House got to be known as West Broad Street School. By now the first staircase in the passageway lobby had been supplanted with an enormous new metal structure planned for institutional utilization. Grades one through eight were taught under the master direction of the new primary James Butler. Arriving at past the proposals set forward in Derenne’s deed, Butler was soon offering professional preparing to aid understudies in viable vocations.

The 1950s would check a critical period for West Broad Street School, as well as for the leading group of instruction, the city of Savannah, and the United States. In 1954 on account of Brown vs. Leading body of Education, the Supreme Court decided that isolation of kids in state funded school exclusively on the premise of race denies them of equivalent training open doors. At the point when Savannah was moderate to actualize integration after the Court’s rulling, nearby dark group coordinators started to put weight on the leading body of training. At last the interest to integrate coupled with the chronically awful state of Scarbrough House prompted the end of West Broad Street School in 1962.

The business known as the Savannah Pharmacy initially showed up in the Savannah City Directory in 1907. Somewhere around 1907 and 1913, the medication store was found at 811 West Broad Street in the middle of Gwinnett and Bolton avenues. G. W. Smith, noted as “colored” in the catalog, was recorded as proprietor or chief of the drug store until 1910. In 1912, Walter E. Touchy showed up in the city index, as an agent at the Savannah Pharmacy. The accompanying year, in 1913, Moody was recorded as the pharmacist and in 1914 as the administrator. In 1915, the drug store was initially recorded at its for the most part perceived authentic area of 719 West Broad Street, close to the corner of Maple Lane in the Currytown neighborhood. Walter E. Testy was still recorded as the director in 1915. Joseph Earl Fonvielle shows up in the city registry without precedent for 1916 and is recorded as a drug specialist at Savannah Pharmacy. William Earl Fonvielle Jr., Moody and Fonvielle acquired the business from the Lee Chemical Company in 1914 and worked under the name Lee Chemical Company until 1917 when they transformed it to the Savannah Pharmacy.

As you can see the rich history of West Broad Street and its businesses played a great role in Savannah’s history. Some of these buildings like the pharmacy that was built in the early 1900’s is still standing on what is now known as Martin Luther King Boulevard. A lot of these businesses were tore down to modernize the city of Savannah. After all of these years of modernizing the city, we now see that the city of Savannah is trying to get back to its historic roots and bring the historic district of Savannah up. One of the biggest ways to do this to bring back a lot of black owned businesses just like the ones that were on West Broad Street and start new businesses on what is now Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

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