450 W. FRANKLIN ST. / COLONIAL DRUG CO. STORE

Colonial ad, 1963  Colonial Drugstore 1964

450 W. FRANKLIN ST. / COLONIAL DRUG CO. STORE

450
,
Chapel Hill
NC
Architectural style: 
Construction type: 
Local Historic District: 
Type: 

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  • Submitted by SteveR on Sunday, July 19, 2020 - 11:23am

    From the Daily Tar Heel, 20 June 1963:

  • Submitted by SteveR on Tuesday, November 3, 2020 - 5:45pm

    A Milton's ad from the July 17, 1951 Tar Heel, mentioning their upcoming move to 163 E. Franklin St.

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  • Sat, 11/14/2020 - 9:00am by SteveR

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450
,
Chapel Hill
NC
Architectural style: 
Construction type: 
Local Historic District: 
Type: 

 

The first occupant of this structure was Milton's Clothing Cupboard, in 1948.

The Colonial Drug Company (a.k.a. Colonial Drugstore) moved into this structure in 1951.

On February 28, 1960, there was a "sitdown protest" inside the store at its dining counter by a group of African American high school students from nearby Lincoln High School, known as the Chapel Hill Nine. The next day, approximately one hundred black youths picketed in front of Colonial Drug and several other segregated businesses on West Franklin Street. The store was protested in front of numerous times over the years, and it never desegregated/integrated until the The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed. 

1963 (photo by Roland Giduz, via UNC)

Colonial ad, 1963

Ad in the Chapel Hill Weekly, 1963

  Colonial Drugstore 1964

1964 (photo by Jim Wallace, via UNC)

1964 (photo by Jim Wallace, via UNC)

1963/1964 (photo by Richard A. Lamanna via UNC)

Colonial Drugs

John Carswell and son "removing" Lincoln High School student James Brittain from the store (Photograph by Al Amon)

Pro-segregation counter protestors, June 1963 (photo by Jim Wallace)

John Carswell's sons, June 1963 (photo by Jim Wallace)

 

John Carswell (aka "Big John"), the proprietor of the Colonial Drug Store, did not believe that the movement in Chapel Hill was an authentic expression of the feelings of local black residents.  Apparently, the FBI convinced him that the protests were the work of communist agitators from Berkeley, California.  These outsiders, Carswell believed, "picked a lot of gullible teenagers in high school. . ." to instigate local problems.  Carswell's drug store was the main focus of local black youths during the Chapel Hill Civil Rights movement.  Carswell felt that the youths had no reason to target his business, as he "...resented the fact that they would turn against me. . . the one that had been good to them" (from an interview of John Carswell by Wendy Watriss and Lois Gilman, August 1974; Interview 103, tape recording and transcript, Oral History Program, Manuscript Department, Duke University Library).
 
The Colonial was also known locally as the home of the "Big O," a beverage made from fresh-squeezed oranges similar to orangeade. The Colonial Drugstore closed in 1996. It is now the location of the West End Wine Bar.
 
On Feb 28, 2020, the Chapel Hill Nine Marker was erected in front of the former store. The marker was designed by Durham artist Stephen Hayes; it has images of the protests and police officers outside of the drugstore, as well as images of news headlines from the time.

WEWB 2016

2016 (via Google streetview)

 

Comments

From the Daily Tar Heel, 20 June 1963:

A Milton's ad from the July 17, 1951 Tar Heel, mentioning their upcoming move to 163 E. Franklin St.

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