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Local History

Penland Grocery Store

 Historic Old Store to Die
Springfield News & Leader, March 18, 1956

"The old Penland store at Grant and Scott, where small schoolchildren once handed pennies across the counter for candy and where politicians met to organize their campaigns, soon will be gone from the Springfield scene.

"The old frame building that housed a neighborhood grocery for more than 70 years is to be razed. With its going, there are many memories among long-time Springfieldians of the days when it served as something of a community center.

"Northwest Springfield was sparsely settled when the store was built in August 1884 by S. K. Penland. Before that time, the site had been used by the Highland Park Street Car Line for car and mule barns.

"Penland was 24 years old when he opened the store. Prior to that, he had been in the J. Rountree store, two blocks from there on Grant. The young groceryman was the oldest of the Penland children. The parents had come here at the close of the Civil War from Georgia and there were four sons who lived to be adults, S. K. Penland, Will, Charley, and Henry.

"The family moved to 647 West Scott about 79 years ago. The youngest son, Henry, was 2 years old. The mother died shortly after that and the father died about five years later. S. K. Penland then took the responsibility for the family. He died in February 1920.

"Charley Penland was associated with S. K. in the store and continued to operate it until a few months before March 1955, when he died at the age of 82. Will Penland, who did not go into the store, died a number of years ago.

"Henry Penland, the youngest of the family was associated with his brothers in the store for considerable time. At a spry 81 years of age, he continues to live in the same home he has lived in for 79 years. The house had been remodeled and enlarged but has some of the original rooms. He has one daughter Mrs. Tom Burns [who lives on] West Scott.

"When the Penland store was started, there was a brickyard on West Scott Street back of the site of the Grant Avenue Baptist Church. The store itself was a grocery with feed and hay business attached. Later, for 42 years, Will Cline rented one room of the building for his shoe repair shop.

"The store was discontinued about a year and [a] half ago. For several months, a cabinet shop has been operated in the building but Henry Penland has decided to clear the lot. The old building is built after the fashion of small stores of its time with a front porch, main store room and lean-to rooms in the back. The shade of the old front porch was a favorite gathering spot in summer for men of the neighborhood who told of their hunting and fishing trips and talked over community affairs.

"'There have been a lot of quails, rabbits, and ducks killed on that porch,' smiled Henry Penland, recalling the hunting stories told there. Incidentally, he still goes hunting. Mrs. Burns who enjoys collecting antiques has kept several of the interesting old items from the store, including the balance scales, twine rack, money drawer, cheese knife, candy dishes and gas light fixtures. She also has a handsome walnut bed brought by the Penland family from Georgia and for many years stored in a back room of the grocery.

"The Penland brothers were Democrats and their store became something of [a] headquarters for leaders of that party in the old Sixth Ward, which was strongly Democratic. Later the ward was Number 7, and now Number 15. Under the old system of electing the council from the various wards, the Sixth Ward was especially important in city affairs. Often the party leaders would hold their meetings in the Penland Store, sometimes sitting on bales of hay in the back part of it.

"T. K. Bowman, last mayor under that system of government, was one of the leaders of the ward. Jim Smith, for many years a political leader here, was another prominent member of the ward. A few years before his death in the late 1940s, Mr. Bowman organized an Old Sixth Ward Club. At the organization dinner in his home he brought in bales of hay for the guests to sit upon, reminding them of the old days in the Penland Grocery, Feed and Hay establishment.

"Residents of the neighborhood throughout the years have many pleasant memories of the corner grocery, which served as a center for supplies but also important to them as a community gathering place."

In the above image, Henry J. Penland stands in front of the store that for 72 years had been a landmark at the northeast corner of Scott and Grand. A similar building, Perry's Grocery Store, still stands at Nichols and Broadway.

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