The Giles County Motor Company Building/Giles County Christian Service Mission
Originally constructed by local businessman and senator A. E. Shumate between 1923 and 1924, the Giles County Motor Company Building housed the first car dealership in Pearisburg. Studebaker and Plymouth automobiles were sold and repaired in the building. Following the closure of the dealership, the open automobile entrances were replaced by storefront enclosures, and the building was repurposed as enclosed retail space. Today, the building is used by the Giles County Christian Service Mission group. The building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1992 for its architecture and for reflecting the economic growth and development of Pearisburg in the early twentieth century.
Backstory and Context
In 1920, the residents of Pearisburg supported a bond issue of $300,000 to improve their roads for automobile traffic. Four years later, Anderson Everett Shumate (December 24th, 1879 - October 3rd, 1947), a local businessman and senator who moved to Pearisburg from the nearby Bluff City, built the two-story brick Giles County Motor Company Building. The Motor Company sold and repaired Studebaker and Plymouth automobiles.
The building features corbeled courses at the first and second story ceiling level, a shed roof over the office section, a gable roof with a crow-stepped parapet, aluminum storefronts, and sash windows on the second floor, which are partially obscured by aluminum siding added in the late-twentieth century. The first floor of the building featured open automobile entrances, an automobile showroom, a repair shop, and several company sales offices. The second floor housed additional office space. In the 1940 Land Book, the building was valued at $3,500, falling behind the Pearis Theater at $6,000 and the Miller Building at $4,800. In the same year, the adjacent one-story brick building on 512 Wenonah Avenue was constructed for use by the Motor Company, and today, this addition is used by the Britts Service Company, which sells appliances.
The Giles County Motor Company ceased operations in the mid-twentieth century, and the building was repurposed for use as an enclosed retail space. The open automobile entrances were replaced by storefront enclosures, and in the 90s, the building housed two discount clothing stores. Today, the building is used by the Giles County Christian Service Mission, an outreach ministry that serves local families who have a chronic need due to low, fixed income or emergency need due to sudden loss by providing necessities, such as food, hygiene products, and clothing.
This building, along with eighteen others, was included in the Pearisburg Historic District limits and placed on the Virginia Landmark Register on December 11th, 1991. Additionally, the building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on January 30th, 1992, for the building's architecture; its connection to Senator A. E. Shumate, who served in the House of Delegates from 1916-1920 and the Virginia Senate from 1928-1939; and for reflecting the economic growth and development of Pearisburg in the early-twentieth century.
Anderson Everett Shumate, Find A Grave. Accessed November 17th 2019. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/30652625.
Kern, John. Pearisburg Historic District, National Register of Historic Places. January 30th 1992. Accessed October 23rd 2019. https://www.dhr.virginia.gov/VLR_to_transfer/PDFNoms/279-0012_Pearisburg_Historic_District_1992_Final_Nomination.pdf.
Shumate, Anderson E, The Virginia Elections and State Elected Officials Database Project, 1776-2007. Accessed November 17th 2019. http://vavh.electionstats.com/php/bio.php?pid=6797.