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Reflections with Sammy Way: Post-war businesses shaped downtown

By SAMMY WAY
Posted 5/9/20

Reflections remembers several businesses that opened in downtown Sumter following the conclusion of World War II. These companies helped shape the Sumter business community, and one became a focal point of the downtown skyline until its removal. The …

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Reflections with Sammy Way: Post-war businesses shaped downtown

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Reflections remembers several businesses that opened in downtown Sumter following the conclusion of World War II. These companies helped shape the Sumter business community, and one became a focal point of the downtown skyline until its removal. The information and photos used to prepare this article were obtained from The Sumter Item archives. Part 1, published in the April 25-26 Sumter Item weekend edition, discussed Neiman's Jewelers and Johnson's Cleaners and can be read at www.theitem.com. Part II features The Dixie Life Insurance Company and The Savage Drug Store.

In November 1945, the Sumter community was notified that the Dixie Life Insurance Company, a locally owned and operated corporation, was organized with a capital stock of $150,000. Mr. S. L. Roddey was announced as president of the new organization, "which expected to engage in writing all forms of life insurance, industrial, ordinary, health and accident."

The newly formed organization selected the City National Bank building on the corner of Main and Liberty streets as its headquarters. The building was selected as the company's home office. Mr. Roddey was in the insurance business for 33 years, 30 of which were spent in the Sumter community where he also served as mayor for 12 years. Mr. E. B. Boyle, president of Boyle Construction Company, would serve as vice president. W. E. Bynum was named treasurer, and J. A. McKnight served as director of the company; John D. Lee was named the company's attorney and general counsel, and Stan Brading, recently released with an honorable discharge from the U.S. Army, served as general manager of the organization. Philip C. Lynch was named assistant secretary of the Dixie Life Company; he was connected with the National Life and Accident Insurance Company in the underwriting department for 15 years before moving to Sumter.

In August 1950, workmen began renovating the ground floor of the Dixie Life building in preparation for occupancy by Blum and Company, which featured fine ladies' wear. The first floor was formerly occupied by the City National Bank, which constructed the seven-story building, Sumter's tallest, in 1912. The floor had previously been occupied by the First Federal Savings and Loan and Riley and Company. In September 1954, the Dixie Life Building was sold to five local men by the Dixie Security Life Insurance Company for a reported sum of $75,000 with the sale taking effect on Oct. 1. The purchasers were Perry Moses, Styles Marshall, W. M. Hodge and Isidore Denemark. These men formed a corporation to manage the building.

In an article published in The Sumter Daily Item in the early 1970s, C. M. Hodge of Hodge Real Estate, owner of the building, noted that "we found it not feasible to have the building remodeled." "It would have cost about $250,000 to remodel the building, and the return on it would not have made it possible to spend that amount of money." "The building was vacated by its three long-term tenants - The Sumter Insurance Agency (dates back to 1866), Creech Lumber Company and Bynum Lumber Company - in 1967 when the owner felt there weren't enough tenants to warrant operation of the structure." It was torn down in 1973.

The Savage Drug Store

Research notes the Savage Drug Store "was organized in November 1945 by Clyde W. Savage, owner and operator of the business, and was one of the city's most progressive firms, serving Sumter and a wide surrounding territory. It was open seven days a week until 11 p.m. to serve the people of the area with a highly satisfactory drug and home appliance service. The store was at 128 S. Main St.

The store had three registered pharmacists in employment. C. W. Savage saw to it that the prescription department was the most modern and complete with all national and standard preparations and that all prescriptions were filled with accuracy and dependability. The Savage Drug Store also handled a complete line of patent medicines, toilet articles, drug sundries, pharmaceuticals, hospital supplies and everyday drug store needs.

At Savage Drug Store, the accent was on service, as was evidenced by the hundreds of people from Sumter and surrounding area who relied on Savage Drug Store for all their drug store needs.

These are two more examples of the numerous businesses who sought opportunities in servicing the people of Sumter when the world war came to an end.