111 Main Street: James Harris store


Bordwell homestead

Shearman homestead

Joseph Jones' plot

111 Main St.umber 111 is now a separate small store in the Cornwell Opera House building, but originally this lot was part of the plot that Joseph Jones sold to James Harris and Samuel Stevens in 1829.

There exists a long and clear chain of title for the land on which this store stands today. It was the north half of the double store that Harris and Stevens erected on their lot, and when the partnership split the building in 1832, this was Harris' portion. The lot changed hands several times during the 1830s, until in 1837 it was purchased by James McVey, who held onto it until 1860, when he sold it to Patrick Hendrick, who retained at least part ownership until 1868. On the 1850 tax roll it was Tracy & Miller's Croton Store, and worth $1800.

Patrick Hendrick was still the owner in 1864 when Charles V. Bush built Bush's Hall at no. 113-119, 111 Main Street(now known as the Cornwell Opera House). No. 111 was made to be part of the same building, though it remained a separate store, as it is now. It was a three-bay facade, with the southmost bay housing a staircase up to the hall's box office and entrance on the second floor. (See especially the picture immediately to the left.)

When built, then, the main front of number 111 was a
store, and the southmost, third bay contained a door and stairway to the Opera Hous111 Main Streete proper, which was on the second floor of the main part of the building. In the photograph, Andrew MacKay had  his grocery store there (he is standing in the entrance) to the left, or north, of the stairway door. He also had the space to the rear of the stairs.

The wooden arch over the stairway door says "Cornwell Opera House" on it, and a sandwich board out front (cropped out of the picture), among other things brags about the current show: "The Old Original North Carolinians," which was a minstrel show featuring "colored" actors and musicians. The show featured J. W. Bones, scenes of Old Plantation Life, and the favorites Old Pompy and Old Toby, to the last of which was appended the only exclamation point visible on the bill. There is much more, in succeedingly smaller print.

In 1903 the ground-floor store sold "Gents' Furnishings", while upstairs was a printer's shop. In 1961 Donaldson-Jensen Co., which sold menswear, occupied the space; they moved upstreet a few years later to the site of the burned firehouse at 143 Main, whereupon Geneva Travel moved into no. 111's storefront.


hot spot map

Top, far right: The modern front of 111 Main Street. A half-size, smaller window has been let into the second floor, and the stairway moved from the right end to the left. The beautiful Italianate cornice and tall arched windows remain.

Near right: The photograph referred to in the text, taken about 1865. It shows the original configuration of the second floor windows and the ground floor doorway to the Opera House stairwell.

People related to this lot and structure:

     David Wagener   
     Abraham Wagener

     Jonathan Bordwell
     George Shearman
     Eben Smith

Other related structures:

     117 Main Street  

Related sites:

     109 Main Street

Related history:

     The Return

Above right: The facade of the Cornwell Opera House building soon after 1901. Number 111's cornice was the same level as that of the main part of the building, but the latter had a second and more imposing cornice to set it off. Notice the sign across the two upstairs windows of 111.


Click a button for an overall view of the whole south end of the 100 block.