Bullitt Street

This is Bullitt Street in the 50s.  Here you see the old Diamond Ice buildings on the left and right. Also on the left is Joe Fazio's restaurant,  which is still there today and one of the most popular restaurants in Charleston.  Many celebrities have eaten at Fazio's.   Where the car is pulling out is the area my family lived in the 30s on Young and Welch Streets. Bullitt Street crossed the railroad tracks back then and continued toward town.  Jack Beards Cafe was just on the other side of the tracks.  It too was a popular eatery in it's day.  Below is a view from the opposite direction taken in the 40s.

Joe Fazios



The three Fazio brothers all served in WWII.  That's Joe, Frank, and  Jimmy.  I did the graphic as a tribute.

Top Photo: This is the Fazio brothers fathers barbershop. 

Their house is behind it.  It's now Fazios Restaurant.


 

 That middle child is Joe Fazio,  taken around 1924


At one time, the old Kanawha Brewing Company stood on Bullitt Street. It was actually known by several names. Trade Names for the brewery at Bullitt Street & the Kanawha& Michigan R.R. were: Capital City Brewing Co 1902-1905, Charleston Brewing Co. 1905-1906, Kanawha Brewing Co. 1907-1914. The brewery was closed by WV State Prohibition in 1914, at which time it was converted into a cold storage plant by the Biagi Fruit and Produce Company.  The building was later removed. There is another photo of this building in the Panorama's section of this website.



NOW....JUST ACROSS THE RAILROAD TRACKS...

Jack Beards Cafe
 Jack Beard's Cafe/Beer Joint on the corner of Bullitt & Dryden Streets. (where the water company is today)

Jack Beard's Cafe was widely known for many years on Bullitt Street for their good food.  
I ate many a meal there as a kid,  while on my way across the old trolly bridge to Market Drive.

Photo courtesy of Karen Knopp Schultz

Jack Beards




PFAFF & SMITH

PFAFF & SMITH

This photo taken a block away from the top photo, looking in the same direction.  You can still see the massive Diamond Ice building on the left.  In the foreground is the proud fleet of the famous Pfaff & Smith Company. You might go so far as to say that most of the Kanawha Valley was built on the backs of these concrete sand and gravel trucks.  Pfaff & Smith had a huge, and I mean huge sand pile that I played on as a kid.  Had to do it on Sunday of course when no one was looking.  The trucks were all bright mustard yellow.

Pfaff & Smith has since sold it's concrete, sand & gravel business.  But it's history is interesting none-the-less and calls for a trivia question:   OK... READY?


 

WHAT WAS THE FIRST COMMERCIALLY PAVED STREET IN CHARLESTON?

If you said Summers Street, you'd be wrong.  While Summers Street is considered the *first paved brick street in America by many,  it was really an experiment to see if the system would work.  Once it had proven itself,  bids were put out to pave all the streets in Charleston with brick.  Meanwhile,  in 1891,  Bellefontaine Ohio became the location of the first concrete street in America. George Bartholomew invented a process for paving using Portland cement, which until then had been used in stone construction. A small section of Main Street, on the west side of the Logan County Courthouse, was the first to be paved using that process.   We're only talking 9 or 10 years from the time that first concrete street was laid and the idea of using brick, a substance that had proven itself for thousands of years. Concrete was still in the experimental stage when it was decided to use brick in Charleston and many other cities.  Another reason (I'm sure) to use brick was because the Kanawha Valley had the finest brick clay on the East Coast.  This is why we normally had at least three brick plants working at the same time.  The bricks for Charleston's streets would be made mostly by the Elk River plant.  See Here:  

 


 

SO, WHAT WAS THE FIRST STREET COMMERCIALLY PAVED?

* Smith Street *

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CHARLESTON DAILY GAZETTE, TUESDAY  JUNE 24, 1902

STREET PAVING BEGUN

CONTRACTORS PUT LARGE FORCE TO WORK YESTERDAY

Smith Street Is the First to Receive Attention and Others will Follow Rapidly

A large force of men was put to work yesterday on Smith street by Pfaff, Ringwald & Smith contractors for street paving. The contractors have made the bond  necessary in all city work and advertised in the Gazette Sunday for a large force of men and fifty teams to commence the work on Smith street.   Yesterday the breaking of ground was inaugurated, and while they are making ready on the city thoroughfares, the brick company on Two Mile is getting in readiness to turn out the paving blocks by the thousands for the street improvements. The work will continue without interruption now to the end that Charleston's streets will be permanently improved . By the time and contracts which have been let are finished; there will be others in progress under the bond issue which the people will vote upon as soon as the ordinance is passed and the election is held.  The street railway company has ordered and paid for rails for Capitol street which will be laid as the street paving is put down. The company has within last ten days has paid $3000 street paving tax which the city claimed, and the promoters of the new company which has taken hold of the property propose to not only improve the service on that one street but will follow it on other streets in Charleston, but under the agreement entered into with the city some time ago.

***********************

Now, I find this VERY odd, because you'd think the city would have started with the downtown streets right?  I have a theory, and if you can discredit it, please let me know:  The downtown area, while not paved in the manner we're accustomed to, was still pretty hard-packed gravel and tar.  Once you moved away from say... an 8 square block area, the streets were a little less hard packed in that day.  Smith Street meanwhile, was the site of warehouses and the railroad bringing all the really heavy stuff into town.   The streets there would have been a disaster with heavy wagons and teams of horses constantly tearing them up.  Horses and the new motorized vehicles would have had a tough time moving freight from the Smith Street area to downtown.  I have a feeling this is why Smith Street was chosen to be the first commercially paved street in the city.


SO, WHO GOT THE BID TO DO THE PAVING?

The answer of course was Pfaff & Smith.  However, back in that day the company's name was Pfaff, Ringwald and Smith.  They were based in Chillicothe Ohio,  but found so much work here that they decided to set-up permanent shop.  Pfaff & Smith changed hands over the years like all companies do, but still basically stayed within a family.  Hardly anyone living in the Kanawha Valley can remember a time when the yellow cement trucks of Pfaff & Smith weren't plodding the roads to the next big job.  And many of the riverboats and barges that plied the Kanawha and Ohio Rivers were associated with or belonged outright to Pfaff & Smith, who had facilities in several WV areas.

 

*First paved street in America.  There are many references to the "first paved street in America".  For instance, Popular Mechanics makes this claim: The first paved road was laid down outside Detroit in 1908 at a cost of $13,534. It was made of concrete. Until then, a surfaced road was gravel, and often a horse was employed to pull a car out of the muddy muck.  It really depends on what kind of paving you're talking about and even THEN you'll find arguments over who was the first.  But as stated earlier, the first experimental  paving (invented by M. Levi) was laid in 1870 by him in Charleston with Dr. Hale applying to the city council for permission to lay it at his own expense. This was on Summers Street, in front of Gates Paint Store, and the paving of the block by this method was completed in 1873. Later M. Levi obtained a patent for his invention, this was after he improved the method by changing the way of preparing the planks used under the bricks and sand.  It seems a long time to me, from that first experiment in 1873 to the first commercial street brick paving on Smith Street in 1902....


 

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