The news that the operator of the West Bend Winery tasting room will be closing that beloved getaway and opening a new retail wine and beer business in the “Nash Building” on Fourth Street next to Foothills has brought a flurry of questions about that magnificent Renaissance Revival structure.
The Bolich, Nash, whatever building is very much in the news today…read on to see the history…click on the pic for full size…
In the boom times of the 1920s, local realtor J. Alonzo Bolich, who already owned the building at 414 West Fourth Street, decided to erect a building to house his various enterprises which could also generate enough rental income to pay for itself. He hired the noted Lynchburg, Virginia architectural firm of Stanhope Johnson & R.O. Brannon to design it. The building, with over 18,000 square feet of usable space, was completed in 1928.
Today, most of us call it the Nash Building, because that name is carved into the westernmost facade, but its official name was the Bolich Building. Bolich installed his offices in the eastern end and leased the rest of the space. His original anchor tenant was the Auto Repair & Sales Company, agents for Nash automobiles and Kelly-Springfield tires. At their request, he had the name “Nash” carved on the westernmost facade.
The Auto Repair & Sales Company’s repair facility was behind the building, with an entrance off Holly Avenue. The last time I was back there, there was still an auto repair business in that building. Next time you are in the area, walk around and take a look.
Memorial Day, 1929: The Clyde Bolling Post band leads off the parade up Fourth Street past the brand new Bolich Building. There are two vertical signs on the building. The one to the rear reads “Nash”, for the local auto dealership. On the vacant lot to the left, now a parking lot, J. Alonzo Bolich would soon erect his latest business, the Tom Thumb miniature golf course. Don’t you wish we had such a thing downtown today? Click on the pic for full size.
Among other early tenants were the Play Mates Kindergarten, operated by the misses Margaret C. Gray and Bessie Blum; W.E. Franklin, real estate; Thomas C. Hailey and E.D. Taylor, notaries public and principles of the Taylor-Hailey Company, real estate & mortgage loans; the Insurance Underwriter Agency, Rosa L. Reich; the Jones Audit Company, John E. Jones; the Winston-Salem Masonic Temple; the C.E. Johnson Realty Company; the Franklin Real estate Company; Mrs. Lena B. Stagg, antiques; Nettie Stephens Corset Shop; a branch of Quality Cleaners, Inc; the Business Equipment Company; the S.B. Knight Decorating Company and Draughn’s Business College. For some years, Oscar C. Crockett, of 1233 East Sixteenth Street, was the building’s popular janitor.
Sometime during the Great Depression, the building passed into the hands of the Prudential Life Insurance Company, which sold it in 1944 to members of the Smithdeal family. After the death of one of the owners, Mary Smithdeal, in 2007, the building was put up for auction to settle her estate. After a long, drawn out process of upset bid after upset bid, the building was sold in December 2012 for $1 million, “as is”, to JPA Group (Andy Bowersox, Jorge Lagueruela and Paul Wong). Some years before, Bowersox had made the initial bid on the property at $500,000.
By then, the Bolich’s oldest tenant, Separk Music, had left the building. Current tenants include Subway, Skippy’s Hot Dogs (had one today) and one of my favorite downtown businesses, the Tattoo Archive.