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A Stroll Down Lafayette Street

  • Written by 
A Stroll Down Lafayette Street

The roaring of lions, the sounds of elephants, the smell of peanuts and sawdust in Marianna?

A guard tower overseeing a Prisoner of War compound during World War II?

A Triple-A baseball team playing in the Winn Dixie parking lot? The face of ‘Main Street’ Marianna has been ever-changing. From the wide avenue of the early 1900s to our present day not-so-straight main street, Lafayette Street has had many faces.

• In the 1930s Marianna had a Coca Cola Bottling Plant, a Nehi Bottling Plant, four department stores, four barber shops, two 5&10 (dime) stores, two furniture stores, numerous attorneys & dentists, and three drug stores on Lafayette Street. People came to town on Saturday and many sat on the low wall surrounding the Courthouse and visited with neighbors while family members shopped. Businesses and county government closed on Thursday afternoons but opened on Saturday morning. Wal-Mart was not even a twinkle in Sam Walton’s eye at that time. Large ‘box stores’ were not even a concept.

• The Mighty Haag Circus wintered in what is now the Northwest Florida Rental Center. During World War II, the United States Government set up numerous prisoner-of-war camps throughout the South, two of which were in Jackson County – one in Cottondale which housed over 200 men and one in Marianna which housed over 500. In an effort to alleviate the shortage of farm labor, an emergency farm labor program was begun and these prisonersof war gathered peanuts, picked cotton, stacked hay, worked turpentine stills, etc. for local farmers.

• The Triple-A baseball team played where Beall Tire is – before the land was owned by retired Police Chief Chester Miller. Lafayette Street, beginning at Noland Street, up Fairground Hill toward Madison Street.

• Mowery Elevator was Lehigh Furniture; was Rhyne Furniture; was Marianna Woodworks

• Family Dollar was the original IGA supermarket

• The Auto Parts store was a Dodge dealership owned by Mr. Jenkins

• North Florida Rentals, in the Winn Dixie block was the winter home of The Mighty Haag Circus; was a World War II Prisoner of War camp, and was Seal Test Milk and Ice Cream; was the home of a Triple-A baseball team

• Lucien Watson, Sr. told of hearing a 12-year old Harry James play the trumpet with his father’s 15-piece circus band during The Mighty Haag’s winter sojourn in 1929. Harry James went on to become a famous bandleader during the 1940s swing era - Harry James and his Band of Renown, although he was probably more famous for being married to World War II pin-up girl Betty Grable.

• Okay Tire Company owned by the Padgett brothers was located along Lafayette on the front of that block. Marianna Chief of Police Chester Miller lived in the wooded area behind Okay Tire.

• Fuqua & Bondurant law office used to be the Coca Cola Bottling plant. Nehi Bottling was located next door in what is now a vacant building but was probably the Dollar Store in 1960.

• Elizabeth Simpson’s law office was Quality Hardware .

• George Little’s law office was Farm Bureau; which was Ivey’s Grocery Store.

• The Sunbelt loan office was part of Heilig-Meyers Furniture which was Danley’s Furniture.

• Buddy Pelt’s store was Pelt’s Furniture; which was Christo’s 5&10; which was J.D. Smith’s store which sold large items like horse buggies, etc.

• Indulge Shop was Dino’s Pizza, which was Old Mexico restaurant, which was Hightower’s Drugs, which was the original location for Citizens State Bank.

• Smith Jewelers was Carr’s Jewelers/Carr’s Beauty Shop and Big Four Barber Shop.

• Delight Shop was Schreiber’s Men’s Wear.

• The Growing Tree and David Melvin, Inc. was Daffin’s Department Store.

This is only a part of an ongoing project, and comments, additions, and corrections would be appreciated. We have expanded this to reach as far as Baltzell’s Hospital, both sides of Lafayette Street, and are working on the side streets of Jefferson, Madison, Caledonia, Green, and Noland Streets. Any and all help will be appreciated. Please call Sue Tindel or Robert Earl Standland at 482-9552 or email And we thought Marianna was just another little sleepy town in the rural South!

Can you Identify this street? Lafayette St (Looking East), Marianna Fla. Residential Section Daffin Building JD Smith’s Store

By Sue Tindel

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