Tag Archives: Georgia Jewish Merchants

Rosenberg Brothers Department Store, 1924, Albany

This Second Renaissance Revival landmark was designed for Jacob Rosenberg by local architect J. T. Murphy. It was modeled after the Neel Reid-designed Michael Brothers Department Store in Athens. Rosenberg originally opened a store in Troy, Alabama, with his brother, and then expanded to Albany in 1896. He married a local girl, Annie Cohn, and was soon the busiest merchant in town. Rosenberg’s was Albany’s finest department store for much of the 20th century, closing the downtown location in 1978 and focusing their business on the local mall.

It is presently home to the Albany Herald and is alternately known as the Herald Building.

National Register of Historic Places

Montour Mill House & Store, Circa 1857, Sparta

Montour Mill House, Circa 1857; photographed in 2014. 

When I photographed these forlorn structures in 2014, I felt they had an important history but also realized they probably didn’t have a promising future. My fears were confirmed last week when James Woodall reported they had been torn down.


Montour Mill Store, Circa 1857; photographed in 2014.

Further conversation with Karen West and Sistie Hudson highlight their importance and the tragedy of their loss. The structures were apparently the last two survivors of the antebellum Montour Mill village. The mill, chartered in 1857, was anchored by a four-story brick factory building. It was likely devastated by the Civil War and attempted a return to production, but was finished by 1884. The property and village was large enough to have been considered as a location for Georgia Tech in 1883. In Houses of Hancock 1785-1865, John Rozier notes: Even in ruins, the big brick factory was a Sparta landmark until it was taken down in 1951.

Karen West: It was originally a mill store owned and operated by a Jewish immigrant. He wrote 15 articles for the Sparta Ishmaelite about life in Czarist Russia. He extended credit to whoever needed it, regardless of race or religion. So sad to see a piece of Sparta history so disregarded. Hopefully someone has pictures of earlier, happier times for that little store.

Sistie Hudson: I took pictures, too—have admired it since I was a little girl…Jacob Nagurya [also written as Nagiiryn] was a Polish Jew. He was a favorite of Editor Sidney Lewis, hence the articles in the Ishmaelite. He owned the first phonograph in the county and sold them as well. He also served as rabbi for the Jewish Community in Sparta. I remember when there was still a row of mill houses across the street from this store. I am so sad about this loss—I have admired it for over 60 years.

Bluestein House, Circa 1870, Darien

This landmark was the family home of the owners of Bluestein’s Department Store; it now houses the Burning of Darien Museum. According to the Breman Museum, which houses the Bluestein family papers: David Bluestein…was the owner of Bluestein’s Supermarket. His family had settled in Darien in the late 1800s when his grandfather, Meyer Bluestein, started a grocery business.

West Darien Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

Pulaski-Barnes House, 1883, Cuthbert

Frank Pulaski was a Jewish merchant who came South to escape the racism of the Know-Nothing party. He commissioned William H. Parkins, Georgia’s most important architect of the post-Civil War period, to build this elaborate Gothic Revival cottage. Parkins was also the designer of the Randolph County Courthouse and Old Main at Andrew College.

Cuthbert Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

Fairview, Circa 1908, Tennille

Built for the Bashinski family, this was once among the grandest homes in Tennille. The Bashinkis were Jewish merchants who moved to Tennille after the Civil War and operated a thriving department store for many years. When the family moved out in the 1940s, the house was subdivided into apartments and the front columns and porch removed. It is presently for sale and would make a great preservation project.

Wescoloski-Bryan House, Circa 1850, Riddleville

Built by an early Jewish merchant in Washington County, this house was sold to Stephen T. Jordan in 1867; subsequent owners were descendants of Jordan, including Lurian Jordan Fulgham, William Henry Fulgham, and Mr. & Mrs. John Y. Bryan. It remains largely unchanged from its original appearance.

Kwilecki-Kemp House, 1916, Bainbridge

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This was built by Julian B. Kwilecki, of the I. Kwiliecki & Sons Hardware Store family.

Bainbridge Residential Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

Leader-Rosansky House, 1903, Vidalia

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This home, with Neoclassical and Queen Anne elements, was built for Moses Leader and Nahum Aaron Rosansky, likely by Ivey P. Crutchfield. It’s the only surviving home associated with any of Vidalia’s founding fathers. Leader and Rosansky were Polish Jews who immigrated to America in 1890 to escape anti-semitism. They didn’t know each other when the first met in Augusta and formed a business partnership. Moses Leader came to Vidalia first, while Rosansky stayed behind in Augusta building capital. Leader peddled goods from door to door at first. Rosansky was in Vidalia by about 1895, when the two opened their store. The Leader & Rosansky Store was the biggest in Vidalia from the late 1890s until its closure, and the owners were instrumental in developing the commercial district of the town. The pair also bought over sixty acres of land and developed it for commercial, religious, and residential purposes. Mr. Leader’s sister, Rosa, came to Vidalia in 1902 and married Mr. Rosansky. It was a thriving family business. Rosa Rosansky died in the flu outbreak of 1918 and the store was closed by 1928. Mr. Rosansky died in 1930. They had two daughters, but only one, Anna Rosansky Bauman, lived to adulthood. She sold the house to Marvin Shuman in 1945. The Shuman’s daughter, Anita Shuman Momand notes that when they purchased the home the spindles on the cast iron fence were each painted a different color.

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National Register of Historic Places

Samuel Farkas House, 1889, Albany

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This Second Empire home is one of the most interesting in downtown Albany. Samuel Farkas came to Albany from Hungary at the age of 18. He couldn’t speak a word of English and only had fifty cents in his pocket. He came to Albany to work with his uncle who had set up a successful mercantile business after the Civil War. In 1872, Farkas opened a stable which focused on the sale of mules. In twenty years, he had amassed a fortune.

National Register of Historic Places

 

First National Bank Building, 1903, Fitzgerald

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Home over the years to everything from the Fitzgerald Police Department, a dentist’s office, cafe, barber shop, and tattoo parlor, the First National Bank Building in recent years was known as the office of General Insurance Company. Connie Kruger adds: This building was also, for a time,, the offices of the Hebrew Commercial Alliance, which was begun to lend financial aid to Jewish merchants, when other sources were not readily available to them.

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I recently got a tour of the building from local builder and preservationst Louie Harper, who will soon renovate it.

Here’s a view made in 1908, showing a barber pole for the National Barber Shop, as well as signs for Dr. Holtzendorf. Archival Photo Courtesy of Louie Harper.

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Cast Iron Ornamental Vent

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These marble steps were not original to the building, unlike those at the main entrance.

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This is the ground floor, which was originally home to the First National Bank. It’s remembered in recent years as the office of Joe Hair’s General Insurance Company.

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These rooms on the second floor were the offices of early Fitzgerald dentist and businessman Dr. C. A. Holtzendorf.

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This is the basement stairway leading to Grant Street. It was once the National Barber Shop, as well as the Fitzgerald Police Department headquarters, and lastly, a tattoo parlor.

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Fitzgerald Commercial Historic District, National Register of Historic Places