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Downtown Marianna North Side of the Central Block Featured

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Marianna has changed a great deal over the years, but some areas have changed very little.

Today we would like to key in on the north side of the central block of downtown. We have shown old photographs of Jefferson Davis Smith’s Buggy and Wagon shop, the boys standing in the vacant lot next to W.W. Harvey’s store and below is that building beside which the boys were standing.

It was in the location of the current Daffin Building. The second floor of the wooden building was the office of Dr. W. H. Snead, who was noted as the major dentist in the area. Milton Smith states that the Post Office was once in the eastern side of the building and upstairs offices were occupied by the U.S. Commissioner. On the ground floor, the small sign says “Thomas Duncan, Practical Tailor”, and the large hanging sign denotes that G.W. Horne’s business was located there. The oxen team and the long wagon were most likely used for hauling logs from the virgin forests in the area.

Robert Daffin removed the building when he built the Daffin Building around 1905. It was the largest business building in the county for many years.

In 1902 J. D. Smith moved his old wooden building back on Market Street and built the corner store where his buggy store had been, and Robert Daffin and he built the building now in the center of the block which has the appearance of being three separate buildings. Later Daffin built the Daffin Building, very much as we see it today. He used a portion of it and rented the remainder for a time. The photo looking east shows that J.C. Smith has a sign on the front of the building at that time. Smith later moved to the center of the west most block and ran a very nice ladies’ dress shop for many years.

When the building was totally used as Daffin’s Store, it was not only large in size, but it sold almost anything one could want for many, many years. During WW II when the Army base was here and so many things were rationed, it was THE place to shop. During the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s, if you couldn’t find what you wanted there, “you probably didn’t need it!” They were noted for selling everything including coffins, fabric, very nice clothing for the entire family, hardware, appliances, feed, seed and fertilizer and all sorts of equipment needed in the area. Robert Daffin passed the store to his son, Frank Daffin, who took over the operation of the store. Later the F. C. Daffin Company was sold to Bill Reddoch, who operated it mostly as a dry goods store with a gift shop and household needs on the second floor until the late 1980’s.

The Daffin Building was purchased by Guy Tatum in the early 1990’s. He moved his Tatum and Associates business there, as well as his wife’s business, Interiors by Gayle. David Melvin established his Marianna Melvin Engineering Company office there at that time. There are other offices in the building today which makes all the very large over one hundred years old building being used very effectively today as it was soon after the turn of the century.

In the original buildings, J.D. Smith continued to operate his business, but he and Robert Daffin rented to J. D. Farrior and B. Schreiber, whose family ran Schreiber’s for many years. Citizens State Bank was begun by Mr. Smith at this location and George Farley had a business there. One of the longest running businesses to operate there was Hightower’s Drug Store. Three generations of the Hightower family ran the drug store before they closed. At some point, Mr. Smith leased his building to the Moore-Gammon Hardware Company where they were located for many years.

The 1950’s photo shows Christo’s 5-10-25cent Store in the old Smith location. Going west on that block was Hightower’s Drug Store, Mill’s Jewelry Store, Carr’s Beauty Shop and Joe Hire’s Barber Shop, then Schreiber’s and the very large Daffin’s Store. Many will remember “Shine” who worked at the Barber Shop. He kept everyone’s shoes shined perfectly.

Today we have a mystery! Because of dated photographs, we know that the building now owned by Buddy Pelt, in the location of the original J.D. Smith Buggy and Wagon Store, was modernized prior to 1940. It was greatly modernized! None of the “older people” with whom we have spoken can remember the changes being made in the late 30’s. The building has almost none of the characteristics of the pre-1940 building and no one we have spoken with can remember the building undergoing such drastic changes.

IF YOU HAVE KNOWLEDGE OF THOSE CHANGES, PLEASE CALL PAT CRISP AT 482-5276. “Inquiring minds want to know!”

While many changes have been made in downtown Marianna over the past 100 plus years, this block has remained so much the same except for that one building on the corner of Lafayette and Jefferson Streets.

One particularly noteworthy thing, however, is that at the same time the City planners made such a “strange” street plan at Lafayette and Caledonia Streets, they planned such wide streets through the rest of the downtown. While the “Plaza/ Confederate Memorial Park” did have footage taken from it when streets were widened years ago, the sidewalks in front of the stores have had very little, if any, footage taken from them to widen the streets as can be seen in these photos. To have the nice street width, with wide sidewalks, as it is today, to have been planned in the 1880’s, is really a remarkable feat, only equaled in a very few small Southern towns.

We can be very grateful to our ancestors and predecessors in Marianna for such good planning of buildings and street planning for downtown. Almost every building is occupied today and the traffic pattern is quite comfortable----most of the time.
Good planning, City Fathers!

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Last modified onWednesday, 01 January 2014 05:12

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