Tag Archives: South Georgia Jewish Merchants

Pulaski-Barnes House, 1883, Cuthbert

Frank Pulaski was a Jewish merchant who came South to escape the racism of the Know-Nothing party. He commissioned William H. Parkins, Georgia’s most important architect of the post-Civil War period, to build this elaborate Gothic Revival cottage. Parkins was also the designer of the Randolph County Courthouse and Old Main at Andrew College.

Cuthbert Historic District, National Register of Historic Places


Filed under --RANDOLPH COUNTY GA--, Cuthbert GA

Fairview, Circa 1908, Tennille

Built for the Bashinski family, this was once among the grandest homes in Tennille. The Bashinkis were Jewish merchants who moved to Tennille after the Civil War and operated a thriving department store for many years. When the family moved out in the 1940s, the house was subdivided into apartments and the front columns and porch removed. It is presently for sale and would make a great preservation project.

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Filed under --WASHINGTON COUNTY GA--, Tennille GA

Wescoloski-Bryan House, Circa 1850, Riddleville

Built by an early Jewish merchant in Washington County, this house was sold to Stephen T. Jordan in 1867; subsequent owners were descendants of Jordan, including Lurian Jordan Fulgham, William Henry Fulgham, and Mr. & Mrs. John Y. Bryan. It remains largely unchanged from its original appearance.


Filed under --WASHINGTON COUNTY GA--, Riddleville GA

Kwilecki-Kemp House, 1916, Bainbridge


This was built by Julian B. Kwilecki, of the I. Kwiliecki & Sons Hardware Store family.

Bainbridge Residential Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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Filed under --DECATUR COUNTY GA--, Bainbridge GA

Leader-Rosansky House, 1903, Vidalia


This home, with Neoclassical and Queen Anne elements, was built for Moses Leader and Nahum Aaron Rosansky, likely by Ivey P. Crutchfield. It’s the only surviving home associated with any of Vidalia’s founding fathers. Leader and Rosansky were Polish Jews who immigrated to America in 1890 to escape anti-semitism. They didn’t know each other when the first met in Augusta and formed a business partnership. Moses Leader came to Vidalia first, while Rosansky stayed behind in Augusta building capital. Leader peddled goods from door to door at first. Rosansky was in Vidalia by about 1895, when the two opened their store. The Leader & Rosansky Store was the biggest in Vidalia from the late 1890s until its closure, and the owners were instrumental in developing the commercial district of the town. The pair also bought over sixty acres of land and developed it for commercial, religious, and residential purposes. Mr. Leader’s sister, Rosa, came to Vidalia in 1902 and married Mr. Rosansky. It was a thriving family business. Rosa Rosansky died in the flu outbreak of 1918 and the store was closed by 1928. Mr. Rosansky died in 1930. They had two daughters, but only one, Anna Rosansky Bauman, lived to adulthood. She sold the house to Marvin Shuman in 1945. The Shuman’s daughter, Anita Shuman Momand notes that when they purchased the home the spindles on the cast iron fence were each painted a different color.


National Register of Historic Places


Filed under --TOOMBS COUNTY GA--, Vidalia GA

First National Bank Building, 1903, Fitzgerald


Home over the years to everything from the Fitzgerald Police Department, a dentist’s office, cafe, barber shop, and tattoo parlor, the First National Bank Building in recent years was known as the office of General Insurance Company. Connie Kruger adds: This building was also, for a time,, the offices of the Hebrew Commercial Alliance, which was begun to lend financial aid to Jewish merchants, when other sources were not readily available to them.


I recently got a tour of the building from local builder and preservationst Louie Harper, who will soon renovate it.

Here’s a view made in 1908, showing a barber pole for the National Barber Shop, as well as signs for Dr. Holtzendorf. Archival Photo Courtesy of Louie Harper.


Cast Iron Ornamental Vent


These marble steps were not original to the building, unlike those at the main entrance.


This is the ground floor, which was originally home to the First National Bank. It’s remembered in recent years as the office of Joe Hair’s General Insurance Company.


These rooms on the second floor were the offices of early Fitzgerald dentist and businessman Dr. C. A. Holtzendorf.


This is the basement stairway leading to Grant Street. It was once the National Barber Shop, as well as the Fitzgerald Police Department headquarters, and lastly, a tattoo parlor.


Fitzgerald Commercial Historic District, National Register of Historic Places


Filed under --BEN HILL COUNTY GA--, Fitzgerald GA

Friedlander’s Department Store, 1936, Moultrie

historic downtown moultrie ga friedlanders department store photograph copyright brian brown vanishing south georgia usa 2012

At the age of 16, in 1907, Louis Friedlander came to Colquitt County and began a business of peddling sundries to local farmers, first on foot and later with a mule and wagon. He opened a small store at this location in 1908, known originally as the Bargain Store but soon thereafter changed to Friedlander’s. He built this structure in 1936, even though the community was suffering immensely from the ravages of the Great Depression, and it became one of the most successful retailers in South Georgia. A recent restoration reinforces the importance of this local landmark, one of the finest examples of Art Deco architecture in Georgia. I made the photo below in 2008, before it was restored.

moultrie ga friedlanders store before restoration photograph copyright brian brown vanishing south georgia usa 2008

Many Moultrie folks have great memories of Friedlander’s. Fay Brock writes: I worked in the office at Friedlander’s from November 1967 until August 1970. I loved my time spent there, I really learned a lot working for this family owned and operated business. The books from all of the stores were kept in this main location. There were about 6 or 7 stores in Georgia and two in Daytona Beach, Florida. They gave me my first real job, and I will be forever grateful that they had enough faith in me to give me the opportunity. Judy Plymel recalls: wow..if this store could talk.. bought so many cool clothes here.. my first prom dress.. when I was a little girl.. my Easter shoes.. Easter dress on occasion.. it was 3 stories.. and the only one in town with an elevator for many years.. such a cool store at the time.. I can add that my hometown of Fitzgerald also had a Friedlander’s store when I was a boy. My great aunt, Gladys Brown, worked there for many years and visiting her was always a treat.

Moultrie Commercial Historic District, National Register of Historic Places


Filed under --COLQUITT COUNTY GA--, Moultrie GA

H. B. Ehrlich House, 1898, Bainbridge

bainbridge ga h b ehrlich house photograph copyright brian brown vanishing south georgia usa 2010

Henry Bartow Ehrlich (1849-1929) came to Bainbridge from Germany in 1871, to take over the business of his brother, Abraham, who had been wounded in the Civil War and later died as a result of those wounds. In addition to a booming merchandising business, Mr. Ehrlich was a founder and first president of the Citizens Bank & Trust Company. This was the first home in Decatur County with electricity. Thanks to Sarah Gail Erlich Hytowitz, the great-granddaughter of the builder, for the identification.

Evan Thibeault shared this: According to a front page article in the March 31, 1898 Bainbridge Democrat, the superintendent of construction of this house was W. H. Carr, who was, at the time of the article, handling the design and construction of the “Belcher Block” on the northwest corner of Broad and Water Streets. The article mentions the Ehrlich house being under construction and was to cost $5000! It was to be “two stories, with all modern improvements and conveniences, steel ceilings, plate glass windows, etc. and will be the finest in the city.”

Bainbridge Residential Historic District, National Register of Historic Places


Filed under --DECATUR COUNTY GA--, Bainbridge GA

Rabinowitz Building, 1915, Alma

alma ga rabinowitz building photograph copyright brian brown vanishing south georgia usa 2016

Jewish immigrant William Rabinowitz (1873-1935) constructed this landmark along with a garage and house to the rear of the property. Those structures are no longer standing. The glazed green and white bricks on the facade of this were a specialty of local builder Manning Sullivan and represent a significant example of artisan brickwork not often seen in small rural towns, at least in my experience. There was space for two businesses downstairs and one large space upstairs. Rabinowitz operated a dry goods store in one half of the downstairs, but more significantly the upstairs space served as the de facto Bacon County Courthouse from its construction until a permanent courthouse was completed in 1920. Bacon County had only been created in 1914. After Mr. Rabinowitz moved to Atlanta in 1924 the building had numerous subsequent tenants, including a church, theatre, dentist’s office, furniture store, and garment factory. Today, it’s’ the home of the Alma Telephone Company.

alma ga rabinowitz building national register photograph copyright brian brown vanishing south georgia usa 2016

National Register of Historic Places


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Filed under --BACON COUNTY GA--, Alma GA

A. S. Harris Department Store, 1953, Ocilla

a s harris department store irwin countys trading center ocilla ga photograph copyright brian brown vanishing south georgia usa 2009

The byline on the front awning said it all. A. S. Harris Department Store was “Irwin County’s Trading Center” for much of the twentieth century. Many of my Irwin County friends remember buying school clothes here, but more than that, this was a “cradle to the grave” sort of store, where everything from baby clothes to funeral attire could be found. Martha Jo Felson Katz shared this history: My grandfather, A.S. Harris opened the store in 1907. For 93 years, it was the cornerstone of our little town. He married my grandmother Ida Bank Harris from Baltimore, Maryland, in 1910 and she moved to Ocilla where she loved, lived and died there. We grew up working in the store. My grandfather started the First State Bank, built the Community House, and owned several other buildings on the main street. He helped my mother and father open Felson’s next door to A.S.Harris’s. Abe died in 1947 and in 1952, the old store was torn down, and the new one built in the same location. We built a red brick building on Cherry Street as a temporary building while the new one was being constructed. It seems like the end of an era now with all of our family there gone.

I never shopped here, but I knew Mr. Harris from meals shared at the Fitzgerald Elks Lodge with my parents. He and his wife, Esther, were two of the nicest people you could ever know.

florsheim shoes sign as harris department store ocilla ga photograph copyright brian brown vanishing south georgia usa 2009


Filed under --IRWIN COUNTY GA--, Ocilla GA