Carthage Northside, Ward 2 - Neighborhood History Project
Work in Progress; several sites to add
This entry represents two of the last remaining blocks of the private residential district once called Cassil Place. The area was nominated to the National Register of Historic Places in 1986. It was described to be the “residential haven of wealthy citizens of Carthage.” The eight residences that remain in the 700 block of West Central serve as prime examples of the various architectural styles of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Portions of the first Cassil House on Central Avenue (for which the district was named) were moved to 119 Blanche Street when replaced by Hawthorne School (811 West Central, see Clio entry for school; no longer standing). Later that remaining portion of the first Cassil House was moved to Red Oak II east of Carthage where it remains today. Gustavus Cassil was the founder of the Bank of Carthage (see Clio entry for bank, 301 South Main Street). He developed the district as a secluded residential area for wealthy Carthaginians. The approach from town had a beautiful limestone entryway followed by an archway of maple trees. The entryway was moved to Carter Park (see Clio entry for park) by the Workers Progress Administration in the 1930s. Central Avenue is now a four-lane highway (and at one point was a late routing of U.S. Highway 66). The development of the former residential district into a mixed-use neighborhood began after World War II
With a substantial African-American population, many of which were former slaves, the Carthage Board of Education practiced segregation and provided a school for black students starting in 1869 in several short-term locations. By 1880 representatives of the African-American community petitioned the board for better care of their school and the board's response was to build a new building. Land was acquired at the southwest corner of Garrison Avenue and High Street and a new school building made from locally-fired brick was erected. Opened for the 1881-1882 school year under the guidance of teacher B. F. Adams, the school was named Lincoln in honor of the late president. The building consisted of an entry hall way and two classrooms, originally one for boys and one for girls. Lincoln School continued at this location, being used for both elementary and high school classes, until 1915, when over crowding initiated the need for a larger school with better equipped classrooms for higher levels. (See Clio entry for Lincoln School #2, 601 South River Street.) This structure is no longer a public building but private residential property.
The Boots Court (also known as Boots Motel) was built by Arthur and Ilda Boots in 1939 originally consisting of eight units. In 1942 Mr. & Mrs. Ples Neely purchased the motel and added five more units to the back of the property. It was then owned by Mr. & Mrs. Ruben Asplin in 1948 until 1991 when Mr. & Mrs. John Ferguson became the last owner/operators of the motel. The building was nearly demolished in the early 2000s to make room for building a new drugstore but was saved by public outcry. Boots Court is now owned by Debye Harvey and Priscilla Bledsaw who purchased the property and saw to the restoration of the building back to operating condition.
Owners Arthur Boots (father) and Robert Boots (Arthur's son called Bob) opened Boots Drive-In in 1946 boasting of serving breakfast at any hour. The diner served sandwiches, waffles, frosty malts, doughnuts, and had a soda fountain with root beer. By day, the diner was filled with local adults as well as tourists who may have come to stay in the Boots Court (see Clio entry for Boots Court) located just across the street. By night, it became Carthage’s teenage hangout spot. The Drive-In, like the Boots Court, was built in the same streamlined Art Deco design that was thought to be thoroughly modern for the time.
William Kaut, formerly of Kaut-Reith Shoe Company located at 200 South River (see Clio entry for address), organized a new shoe company with several local investors. A steel reinforced concrete and stucco building designed by Percy Simpson and constructed by P. J. McNerney was built for the company at a total cost of $50,000. When operations opened eighty workers began making product, manufacturing 750 pairs of shoe a day. As the workforce increased to several hundred workers, up to 2,500-3,000 pairs could be made each day. When and why Kaut stopped manufacturing in the 1920s is not known. Carmo Shoe Manufacturing Company moved to this site and may have leased other manufacturing sites in Carthage including the Goodhealth Shoe Company building (4th and Maple Streets, see Clio entry for address/company). They operated through the late 1940s. Once Carmo closed, the building was used for storage by other local manufacturers, including Smith Brothers Manufacturing, and then became a furniture factory until the structure was torn down and a used car lot occupied the site until the current business was constructed.