The Hollow Rock Store graced the banks of the New Hope Creek at Erwin Road from about 1930 until 1999. It had two incarnations. The first store, shown in this 1972 photograph, was built and owned by John Ransom Whitfield. John Brown rented the store from Whitfield and operated it for nearly 40 years. Click here to see a 1945 painting of the original Hollow Rock Store by artist Kenneth Harris.
The store sold groceries and gas, and served as a polling place on election days, in addition to being a significant community gathering place.
In the mid-1960s, there were musical gatherings at the store on Friday nights after closing time. Among other local musicians, the lineup sometimes included banjo player Tommy Thompson, later of the Red Clay Ramblers. Read Tommy's reminiscences of those days on the Old Red Clay Ramblers website. Tommy and his wife were part of a band known as the Hollow Rock String Band before the Red Clay Ramblers were formed. As Tommy said: “The Hollow Rock Grocery was the kind of store you could stand in the middle of and reach all the merchandise.”
In this 1972 photo, Linwood Crabtree (right) makes himself at home at the store, enjoying a neighborly conversation.
New Hope Creek Corridor Advisory Committee member Bill Olive remembers sleeping in that store one damp night in 1931, when he was just a boy. Bill's family had gone camping on a rock near the creek. When it started pouring rain, they went to the store and John Brown took pity on them and agreed to let them sleep on the floor until morning.
Around 1969, John Ransom Whitfield's son (John Glenn Whitfield) and grandson (Stanford Whitfield) took over operation of the store. The photo at right shows Stanford and his wife Sue in the store in 1972.
The Whitfields soon decided they needed more space and announced plans in 1972 to tear down the old store and build a new one. Hollow Rock patron Jan Gregg told them she'd like to use the old store as her pottery studio. The Whitfields agreed and Gregg had the store moved to her nearby property. It served as her studio for nearly 20 years, and was used for storage after that. The photos below show the store on the Gregg property.
In 2006, the location of the old store came to the attention of local activists working to establish the New Hope Preserve, which will have a major access point at the site of the Hollow Rock store. Local activists have begun talking to Jan Gregg about having the store moved back to (or near) its old site, to serve as a focal point of the preserve.
The 1972 store built by the Whitfields was torn down in 1999 in the course of replacement of the Erwin Road bridge by the North Carolina Department of Transportation.
Also of interest: our page on plans for the New Hope Preserve at the Hollow Rock Access Area.