minersShort video clip of the demolition of Miner's.
The old Miner’s gas station at the intersection of Hwy. 144 and Hwy. 17 is being demolished.
A deal was recently reached between property owner Sheila Galbreath and realty company the Paradise Group to purchase the property in order to build a Walgreens at the location.
The property, which has dilapidated since closing in 2004, is one of the oldest buildings in Richmond Hill. It is also the source of countless memories for many long time residents. The old store was first open for business since the 1940’s.
Negotiations have been ongoing between Galbreath and the drug store chain for about two years. A contract was recently signed between the two parties. Groundbreaking for Walgreens is anticipated for next fall.
Galbreath said there were several reasons negotiations took so long, including a change in the developer and the decision to sell the tract rather than lease it.
The first official motion for the property was made during Monday’s Richmond Hill Planning and Zoning meeting when the board approved a motion from Paradise Group to subdivide the 1.7 acre lot.
The store has had several stewards during its seven decades. It was originally run by owner Hugh Miner when it opened in the 1940’s. In the late 1950s, Miner leased it to family friend Bud Casey. Casey ran the store into the 1970s. While it was being torn down on Tuesday, you could see the old ‘Bud Casey’s’ name on the top of the building.
When Casey left to run the Richmond Hill Holiday Inn, the store was then leased to Harrison. Roland’s son Mark Harrison took over after his dad before starting up Harrison’s Tire across the street. Property owner Hugh Miner’s son Dinky Miner then took the reigns and ran the store until it finally closed in 2004.
Galbreath, Dinky’s daughter, inherited the property when he passed away.
She said Eckerd’s was originally interested in the tract, but Walgreen’s came into play two weeks after the Eckerd’s deal fell through.
From all accounts, the old store was a popular meeting place the entire time it was open. Although it has been through several remodeling stages, it was always a service station in addition to selling a variety of goods.
"The demolition of the old store is bittersweet," Galbreath said. "This city is getting a nice new store, but losing a part of its history at the same time. There’s very little left of the old Richmond Hill and this is kind of an end to an era. There’s a lot of nostalgia in the old store."
Long time city resident Ellis Phillips recalls a time when the store was nicknamed the "Pecan Lounge".
"It was a hangout for all the folks who have lived here a long time," Phillips said. "We’d have tailgate parties next to the old pecan tree outside the store. Everybody would be there. There were about 25 of us that met there every morning as well. It was a lot of fun. Seeing the old place go down brings back a lot of memories."
Phillips said he cut out some wood from the pecan tree for nostalgic reasons. He plans to build a mantle inside the home he is currently having built.
"You could find out about everything going on in Richmond Hill by stopping by Miner’s," Galbreath said. "Everybody was there and the gossip mill usually began there."
Karen Gassoway, Bud Casey’s daughter, said she has a lot of good memories of her dad running the store. She said "everything from televisions to fishing tackle to watches" was sold there.
"It was truly a one stop shop," Galbreath said. "If they didn’t have it, they’d order it."
Galbreath said one of the reasons the store closed is because Dinky sold goods and services to most of the regular customers on the honor system, and it was hard to make money while continuing Dinky’s goodwill methods.
"He’d give you the shirt off his back," Phillips said. "He was a good man and he helped a lot of people in this town."
Mayor Pro-tem Floyd Hilliard worked for Dinky as a mechanic when he got out of the service.
"I don’t see how he could turn a profit with all the free stuff he gave out," Hilliard said. "He had a heart of gold."
Through the years, the store was the setting for turkey shoot fundraisers, weekly cookouts and a variety of other activities that brought the town together.
"Ironically enough, the demolition started four years to the day after daddy died," Galbreath said.
See video at bryancountynews.net.