Shortly after the turn of the twentieth century, three McKinne brothers moved to Louisburg from Johnston County. Here they developed a thriving business and made significant contributions to the development of the town.
Frank B. McKinne placed a large ad in The Franklin Times on January 13, 1905, announcing his new livestock sales stables. "Bad weather and low price cotton have prevented me from opening as early as first announced, but I am coming sure," he said. He promised to have a good supply of horses and mules in the near future and urged readers to "wait for me."
Frank may have been in business with his brother David F. McKinne. They soon were joined by Malcolm. In the early years of the business, they sold buggies, wagons, and harnesses in addition to livestock. By 1910, however, the siblings had expanded their offerings to include hardware, groceries, and fertilizer. They also bought cotton from farmers.
An agricultural and industrial edition of The Franklin Times published in 1917 reveals that the McKinne Brothers Company flourished, enabling the brothers to engage in additional business enterprises. Their store on Main Street, facing Court Street, occupied more than 35,000 square feet of floor space, and merchandise was stored in three separate warehouses. Twenty employees operated several distinct departments: buggy and harness; hardware; dry goods and clothing; and plumbing and mill supply.
O. Y. Yarboro managed the company's livestock department. The firm sold fertilizer valued at hundreds of thousands of dollars annually. Customers included many people from surrounding towns. In 1915, for example some 3,000 people swarmed in Louisburg's streets during the store's "Daddy Rabbit" sale, during which the store held a drawing for either $500 or a new Ford touring car.
The McKinne brothers invested some of their profits in the First National Bank, which was located on the northwest corner of Main and Nash streets. Although this bank was not as old as the nearby Farmers and Merchants Bank, its owners boasted that it had "the largest deposit account of any bank in Franklin County." The facility in 1917 featured a recently remodeled interior with white marble wainscoting and mosaic floors. A restroom for ladies at the rear of the bank attracted grateful shoppers. An illuminated clock on the exterior of the building chimed the quarter hours and hours. Frank B. McKinne served as cashier of the bank, and Malcolm and David F. McKinne were directors.
Disaster struck in December 1921, when a fire completely destroyed the McKinne Brothers Company building. The brothers moved the firm to temporary quarters in an old hardware store just north of their property. It was not until August of 1924 that construction of a one-story replacement building began. A contractor named B. W. Harris oversaw the work. The company looked forward to the new building, which was planned so that deliveries could be brought inside through a rear entrance.
The success of the McKinne brothers enabled them to acquire substantial homes on Sunset Avenue. This street was developed by James Turner beginning in 1913. Frank McKinne hired architect Marion Stuart Davis to design his colonial revival-style home located at 302 Sunset. Malcolm's family lived in a two-story frame house next door to Frank's. David McKinne purchased a large bungalow at 401 Sunset-a house that had been built by N. B. Alsbrook.
Subsequently known as Seaboard Stores, the McKinne brothers' business remained in operation for many years. Later operated by Philip McKinne, a son of Malcolm, the business ceased operations in 1990. Franklin County acquired the property for the Hamilton Hobgood Courthouse Annex.
Published in The Franklin Times on May 21, 2015.
Maury York is director of the Tar River Center for History and Culture at Louisburg College. He can be reached at email@example.com.