REFLECTIONS

Reflections by Sammy Way: Sumter builds a bus station

By SAMMY WAY
Posted 2/24/19

Webster's Dictionary defines a bus as "a large motor coach that can carry many passengers, usually along a regular route." Reflections remembers several of the bus station sites which served the populace of Sumter. Resources used to write this …

This item is available in full to subscribers

REFLECTIONS

Reflections by Sammy Way: Sumter builds a bus station

Posted

Webster's Dictionary defines a bus as "a large motor coach that can carry many passengers, usually along a regular route." Reflections remembers several of the bus station sites which served the populace of Sumter. Resources used to write this article were taken from The Sumter Item archives and from the writings of the late Mayor Bubba McElveen.

"Julian's popular Sumter restaurant moved from its location on South Main Street to the Montgomery-Ward building on North Main on Sept. 1, 1934." Remodeling of this facility was started to prepare for the restaurant. The building consisted of three stories and was large and airy. An annex was built at the rear to house the kitchen in order to keep odors and heat from entering the dining area. A separate waiting room and ticket office were constructed within the main building for the new Greyhound and East Coast Bus Line. In addition, construction of a parking shed was planned to house the buses in the rear of the building.

It was announced in February of 1934 that the Greyhound Bus Lines would open their North-South service through Sumter. They informed the city that the buses would run from Charlotte to Walterboro, connecting at each of these points with buses running to Florida and to points in the North. Buses would stop at the corner of Main and Liberty streets, while tickets were sold at Julian's Coffee Shoppe (later Julian's Restaurant).

Management estimated that a crowd of 4,000 or 5,000 people would attend the grand opening of the Union Bus Terminal to be located inside Julian's. Heavy registration for the six free round-trip tickets to be given away by the two motor lines ensured a sizeable crowd would attend the opening. Frank C. Martel, district superintendent of the Atlantic Greyhound Lines, came to Sumter to oversee the grand opening.

Two local buses, brought to Sumter by C. B. Moody White of Statesville, North Carolina, were operational at the time. Mr. White was granted a temporary permit to establish a bus line in the city under the name of the Sumter Coach Company. The buses operated the full length of Main Street through Manning Avenue, out to Broad and to Liberty Street. Mr. White employed only experienced drivers who had filed the necessary bonds for the service as noted by City Manager Raffield.

In February of 1943, an application for a building permit was obtained through the federal government for the construction of a new bus station at the Claremont Hotel. It was announced on April 16, 1943, that the permit was accepted, and construction would soon begin. An agreement was reached between Sumter Hotels Inc. and officials of the Greyhound Bus Corp. The new station was projected to cost approximately $28,000. "Part of the present dining room and kitchen of the Claremont were converted into waiting rooms with plans calling for construction of an 18-foot extension to be added to the building. It was also decided that the whole lot, including an entrance from the Bartlette Street side of the hotel, would be asphalted. Sheds, or docks, would also be erected for the buses." The decision to build a new facility was supported by the Chamber of Commerce and the city "in the interests of Sumter people who long voiced complaints about the bus depot usually related to the crowded conditions and the abundance of mud in the loading area. They also fondly remember the extremely nice manners of Julian Levy, the cafeteria operator."

George D. Brown, the company architect, and the General Construction Company of Columbia, headed by R. E. Fulmer, was awarded the contract to construct the new station. The projected date of completion was Aug. 1, 1943. Mr. E. S. Drum was selected to be manager of the station which was finally opened on Feb. 1, 1944.

"The Claremont Hotel burned on Oct. 14, 1965, which forced the relocation of the bus terminal. According to Mayor McElveen, "The bus station moved across Main Street to a Pure Oil service station and remained there until a new facility could be located. It moved temporarily to a location on Manning Avenue at the intersection of Harvin Street. A new building was eventually constructed at 230 E. Hampton Ave. at the corner of Green Street where it remained until Hurricane Hugo destroyed the building in 1989. The station relocated to 863 E. Liberty St., finally moving to its current location on 129 S. Harvin St. operated by the Southeastern Stages Inc. in the Clyburn Building."