New in the collection: Dixie Fire Insurance blotter

Dixie Fire Insurance, chartered in 1906, is long lost into a series of industry mergers, but its handsome headquarters — at five stories, once Guilford County’s tallest skyscraper — remains as the nominally truncated Dixie Building.

Now that Winston-Salem has renamed the Dixie Classic Fair the Carolina Classic Fair and Winn-Dixie has beaten a retreat from the state, the Dixie Building may be the Triad’s most prominent bearer of the increasingly-contentious name.

Also from Dixie Fire Insurance’s store of desk accessories: this eye-catching mirror/paperweight from World War I.

New in the collection: Dr. Grabow pipe filters

Red box with image of pipe and the words Dr. Grabow Filters
When Dr. Grabow Pre-Smoked Pipes relocated from Chicago to Sparta in 1944, it became Alleghany County’s first manufacturer. Its starting payroll of 65  would grow 10-fold before eventually shrinking to barely a dozen as once-loyal smokers either died off or lost interest in keeping their briar bowls lit.

The most recent of Grabow’s several owners abandoned “presmoking” as pointless, although the name on the old water tower hasn’t been updated.

Pipe filters are a necessary side product at the Sparta plant — a single machine operator cranks out 155,000 a day — although this box of filters is labeled Greensboro because the company kept its sales office there until 1982.

New in the collection: S. LaRose watch parts tin

Watch parts tin with the words "S. LaRose Inc." in the center of the cover. The words "Materials, Tools, Supplies, Greensboro, N.C." circle around the name of the company.

S. LaRose Inc. was a familiar presence in downtown Greensboro from 1939 until its dissolution in 2006. The family-run, mail-order wholesaler must’ve distributed thousands of these watch-parts tins, if how many appear at flea markets and on eBay is any indication. This one is an inch in diameter, but at least two larger versions survive.

LaRose Properties remains one of downtown’s most significant property owners and developers.

New in the collection: hardware store tags

The front of three price tags with the names of hardware stores.

The opposite sides of three price tags featuring the words "Number," "Cost," and "Sell," with each word followed by a blank line.

Before big box chains such as Lowe’s and Home Depot, few towns lacked a locally-owned hardware store or two.

These paper price tags are modest reminders of Wyatt Hardware (founded 1881) in Raleigh, Smith Hardware (1899) in Goldsboro and Odell Hardware (1872) in Greensboro.

New in the collection: O. Henry Hotel sticker

Luggage label with image of O'Henry Hotel with text about the hotel.

“The original O. Henry Hotel was built in downtown Greensboro in 1919 at the southwest corner of Bellemeade and North Elm Streets. The first of the city’s modern hotels, the O. Henry was built through local stock subscriptions….

“Within six weeks after opening, it could not accommodate all the guests. An adjoining tobacco warehouse was converted to take care of the overflow. Having 300 rooms, the O. Henry was one of the largest and finest hotels in the state for many decades.

“As interstates were built and the city grew away from downtown, business declined and the hotel closed in the ’60s. The original O. Henry Hotel was razed in 1979.”

—  From “Original O. Henry Hotel.”

This luggage label is from the O. Henry’s time (1936 on) as a link in the Atlanta-based Dinkler Hotels chain.

In 1998 a new O.Henry Hotel with 131 rooms opened 3 miles west of the original site.

New in the collection: Carolina Action pinback

Pinback with the words "You and Me versus Duke Power Company" and "Carolina Action"

“From the mid-1970s to about 1982, Carolina Action seemed everywhere in Greensboro. It held press conferences and rallies to demand an elected school board and a district system for electing City Council. It held voter-registration drives. It fought proposed electricity rate and bus fare increases by Duke Power, which operated the bus system then. It took busloads of members to Raleigh to protest the state placing motorists in an assigned risk pool that meant higher premiums….

“Carolina Action introduced to Greensboro in-your-face protesting. It sent City Council member Lois McManus a snake the group said had been caught on a vacant lot the city had failed to maintain….

“By 1981, Carolina Action’s paid staff was gone and neighborhood groups became inactive. One of the young organizers said America’s youth had grown conservative and apathetic, and Carolina Action was having trouble finding recruits willing to work hard for low wages….”

— From “Group raised the curtain on political theater in Greensboro in ’70s” by Jim Schlosser in the Greensboro News & Record (Oct. 5, 2009)



New in the collection: Nathanael Greene beer label

Beer bottle label with a portrait of Nathaniel Greene and the words "Natty Greene's Brewing Company. Guilford Golden Ale."

Should Greensboro historians be offended to see a local craft brewery cheekily refer to its revered general as Natty? I don’t think so!

Nor do I think megabrewer Anheuser-Busch should have challenged — unsuccessfully — Natty Greene’s trademark application just because its own brand roster had staked out Natty Light, Fatty Natty and Natty Daddy.



New in the collection: Arnold Palmer ‘thank you’ button

Pinback button with the words thank you Mr. Palmer and Wyndham Championship.

“Widely considered the most important figure in golf, Arnold Palmer played a significant role in Wyndham Championship history, and today, a plaque in his memory was unveiled on the tournament’s ‘Wall of Champions’ behind the ninth green at Sedgefield Country Club with Palmer’s grandson, Sam Saunders in attendance….”

— From an announcement by the Wyndham (Aug. 15, 2017)

Since its founding in 1938 as the Greater Greensboro Open, the tournament has gone through several changes of names and courses.


New in the collection: National Folk Festival button

Pinback button with words not your average folk festival and an image of a guitar neck.

After a three-year run the annual National Folk Festival bid adieu to Greensboro but not without spinning off the locally-staged North Carolina Folk Festival.

And quite a gift to the city it has been (well, until along came 2020).


New in the collection: Crash Craddock pinback

Pinback with image of Crash Craddock and words "Billy Crash Craddock Fan Club."
“Billy ‘Crash’ Craddock, born in 1939 in Greensboro, earned the nickname ‘Crash’ while a running back on his high school football team.

“The young, handsome Craddock was signed by Columbia Records to compete with Elvis. During 1959 he had a No. 1 record in Australia and was greeted there by screaming crowds when he toured with Bobby Rydell, The Everly Brothers, Santo and Johnny and the Diamonds…”

— From his biography at the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame

After his teen idol career stalled, Craddock made a successful transition to country. In 2003 Greensboro named a bridge after him.