Cary News: Opinion

Cary’s Heritage: Academy Street a reflection of changing times

With the renovations beginning on Academy Street, this is a good time to visit many fond memories from people who lived in town years ago and told us about how the street used to be:

Esther Ivey: When we came to Cary in 1890, everybody had a barn, and all the houses had fences on Academy Street with trees planted on each side of the dirt street. The school always sat at the head Academy Street. Our house was in between Academy and The Lane, and our lot backed up to Park Street. From the Lane up to Park Street it was all woods.

Mary Belle Phillips: The Methodist church is right where it was in 1918. The front of it looks the same but it was just one building. Then they added on and put brick on it. There used to be a tower, but it’s gone now.

The Baptist church was down on Chatham Street, just a one-room wooden building. Then they built the new, bigger church on Academy Street and moved.

Where the Fidelity Bank is, there was a tall, wooden general store. Frank Gray and his brother owned it. When they died in the late ’20s the store closed.

Across the street was the drug store. It was in an earlier building than the one there now. I believe the first druggist was Mr. Baucom. Later Henry Adams took over as our druggist. Then in 1957, Ralph Ashworth bought the store from Mr. Adams.

Robert Heater: The cornerstone of Ashworth Drugs states the building was built as a Masonic Lodge in the 1930s, with the drug store on the ground floor and the lodge above.

John Yarborough: Cotronis Shoe Shop was a wood structure on the corner of Academy Street across from Adams Drugstore. It had a big shoe hanging outside. Mr. Cotronis was Greek, and he had a real cute little accent. He kept your shoes together.

Robert Heater: As a kid, I used to go down to Cotronis Shoe Shop, because he always had a stove going in the wintertime. You’d go in there to get warm, and Mrs. Cotronis gave us cookies and a drink. They treated kids the greatest in the world.

Mary Crowder: Then the shoe shop building was torn down, and Mr. Hobby built the Kitchen Appliance building. When it was complete, Winn-Dixie moved in as Cary’s first supermarket.

Charles Adams: I grew up on Academy Street. We lived two houses from the school where my Mom taught all those years, and where I went all the way through school. In the middle of the block was the Baptist church where my Mom and I went, and on down was the Methodist church, where my Dad went, and our drugstore was across the street. So we never got off Academy Street.

Charlotte Phelps: I grew up in the house across from Cary Elementary School. Charles Adams lived across the street. Dr. Hunter and his son Jackie lived two doors down, and Johnny Upchurch lived to the left of us. So I played football with all the boys on Academy Street as the only girl.

Cary’s Heritage is taken from the book, “Just a Horse-Stopping Place, an Oral History of Cary, North Carolina,” first published in August 2006. The book is a collection of oral history interviews conducted between local citizens and Friends of the Page-Walker Hotel.