Ben Thomas Jr.
Mayor of Greencastle
Ben Thomas Jr.

So will you take a virtual walk with me around Greencastle as I write about the so important business community prior to Antrim Way (Route 11) and Interstate 81? I so enjoy history. Now, when I read what happened in Greencastle in The Echo Pilot years ago … I remember many of the events.

With Franklin County going "green" let’s support our local businesses now more than ever!  

Recently, neighbor Janet Williams sat down with Tina and I and visited. We do love porch sittin’ as many citizens stop by to say hi.

Janet grew up on South Washington Street in the 1930s and 1940s so I asked her what businesses were around back then. We listened intently as she shared her childhood and teen years!

First, you have to understand transportation in the area back then. East and west traffic traversed Baltimore Street just as it does today. Antrim Way would not be built around Greencastle until 1955. It was kind of a bypass on Route 11 between Hagerstown and Chambersburg. Before Antrim Way was opened traveling north meant you drove on South Washington Street (yes, this was Route 11) to East Baltimore Street. You then turned left, traveled to Center Square, then turned north on Carlisle Street (yes, this was Route 11 also). I know many that are reading this are saying, "Yes, I remember!" On North Carlisle Street, you crossed the one and a half lane bridge (Walter Avenue) then continued north on Route 11 where Antrim Way exists today.

So, let’s take a virtual ride south on Washington Street (from East Baltimore Street) where the popular Greencastle McLaughlin Hotel and theater (now B Street 104) were. The former “Town Hall” three-story building housed businesses on the first floor on the southwest corner. The Corner Drug Store was one of those first floor buildings. Carl’s Drug Store was also downtown to serve area residents  Beyond the alley (Spruce Lane) was a gas station and auto repair shop. Tom Fox purchased the garage following WWII. On the east side was the Greencastle public school that accommodated all grades. Antrim Township students attended for college preparatory classes. After school, students could meet at The Corner for a fountain soda and ice cream. The former “Town Hall” was heavily damaged by fire in January 2005 and required the building to be demolished.

The highlight of Janet’s marvelous recollection was her Mom and Dad’s bakery. Williams Bakery was attached to their home with a store room in back. The Williams family was on the one side; the Hoover family on the other. Williams Bakery began early in the morning. Hot cinnamon buns were 25 cents a dozen. Pretzels were 10 cents a dozen. Mr. Williams would even deliver these goodies to local homes. Across the street, just south of Addison Avenue, was Maun’s Grocery in what is now an apartment building. Before that it was Hollinger’s Store. Maun’s Grocery had an in-house butcher and fresh seafood. Folks didn’t have enormous refrigerators and freezers back then so visiting the local store was a daily chore, especially when it was just a brief walk or bicycle ride. You could charge your expenses and pay on pay day Fridays. 

 Western Auto opened its doors on South Washington Street across from Addison Avenue by the Carbaugh family. An expansion would cause its move to the Hostetter Building on the northwest corner of Center Square. Tiny Myers opened the town’s first shop to sell and repair televisions in the 200 block where the first television would be viewed. A large television tower would be erected to the rear of the property with guy wires stabilizing the tall structure until the current owner removed it several years ago. Folks watched the famous Joe Lewis boxing match there in 1948. Antennas and towers were erected at many homes where you may be able to receive five TV channels.

Plenty of citizens would walk to work as South Cedar Lane was the epicenter for industrial jobs before, during and after WWII. The publications of Bonnie and Ken Shockey with the Allison-Antrim Museum are wonderful reads entitled “Greencastle-Antrim Revisited” with lots of photos of this period.

 OK ... let’s walk down to the intersection of South Washington Street and Leitersburg Street. Hocker’s gas station was located where the district judge’s office is located along with Kauffman’s Diner. The employees in local industry could just walk over for a blue plate lunch special. This was a low priced meal with a different daily special. A menu didn’t read like a book back then and a dollar would certainly fill your palate. While at Hocker’s gas station in 1950 you could buy a gallon of gas for 27 cents and a cold soda would be a nickel. The VFW Post was founded following WWII by local veterans. They would purchase a dwelling at the intersection for the Harry D. Zeigler VFW Home. 

Beside Kauffman’s Diner was a vacant field known as the Holstein Lot or HOCO Field. The Holstein family would construct their red brick home just south of this location. The “Hose Company” used the field to play softball complete with a scoreboard. Later, the firemen’s carnival would move the “block party” from North Washington Street to the Holstein lot. The Special Events Center (now Blue Heron Events) was built in 1982 as a fundraising building for the Rescue Hose Company. Beyond that lot farmland by the Oaks family adorned Greencastle-Antrim.  

In those days, families had one car. You were able to walk to your store, to school, to your doctor, your lawyer, your church and all other services needed. What a wonderful way of life with excellent community planning. Janet said the family enjoyed sitting outside on Sunday afternoons and counting the out-of-state license plates on the cars traveling Route 11 (South Washington Street). 

Next week, I’ll ask you to continue my virtual walk around yesteryear Greencastle. Thanks Janet for sharing! Tina and I so enjoyed our talk. Because of you ... we are blessed.