LowCountry Boil to benefit Preservation Statesville set for Saturday
BY HALEY JONES
In the 1890s, the saloons around the old county courthouse brought enough foot traffic to the area known today as Court Street that it was commonly referred to as “Ballroom Alley.”
But in 1893, frequent saloon customer Dan Troutman took issue with that name, asserting that the street should be called “The Whiskey Shoot” or “Whiskey Shoot Alley.”
That name stuck for many years, according to local historian Steve Hill.
Bristol Café owners Jeff and Joanie Hustead are hosting a benefit in the alleyway beside their establishment on Saturday, Jan. 13, to pay homage to that history and raise money for Preservation Statesville.
The event is scheduled for 1 to 4 p.m. Tickets are available at the restaurant for $20 in advance and $25 on the day of the event. The benefit will feature a Low Country Shrimp Boil or Chicken and Sausage Gumbo served with a tossed salad, and roll. The Cheney Brothers are donating a portion of the food for the event.
“Historical Collection Curator Steve Hill has worked tirelessly for decades to preserve Statesville’s History,” the Bristol Café owners noted in an effort to publicize the event. “While most people know Steve as the unofficial town historian and full-time volunteer, few realize that virtually every one of the countless pictures (in the historical collection) were restored, reprinted, and professionally framed all at his expense. He has also personally funded a staggering number of artifacts at auction and online for display at the galleries and various businesses around town.”
Bristol Café is part of the history of Whiskey Shoot Alley. By 1895, a block of four brick structures had been built at 110 through 116 Court Alley. In the early 1900s, the location was known as the Bristol Hotel & Café. Prior to this, the location opened in 1889, as the Star Saloon, run by W. H. Stockton & Sons.
Today, the Bristol Café sits at the site of these historic businesses.
Other interesting facts, provided by Hill, about Whiskey Shoot Alley include:
• It was said that a lady would never be seen walking unescorted on “Whiskey Shoot.” The saloon traffic was located on the north side of the alley, and the County Jail, a three-story brick structure located in the area between the back of the current old courthouse, was located on the south side. The back of the building was what we now know as the “Old Jail.” Not surprisingly, “cat calls” and colorful language could be heard echoing up the street from the jail.
• The Tays Saloon was located next to the Star Saloon. In 1885, Tays, John Somers and a Westmoreland purchased licenses for the retail sale of spirits. They paid the town $500 each for the right, so they must have anticipated a great need for those services.
• A local prohibition on the retail sale of alcohol in the town limits had been in place from 1872 until its repeal in 1885, and people were thirsty for the “retail spirituous, vinious, and malt liquors” that Tays and others offered.
• In 1889, there was a complaint that the noise from W.H. Stockton’s Saloon was so loud that it was disturbing court proceedings. And although Stockton had a reputation for being a rebel rouser, The Landmark rebutted that Stockton kept a neat, clean, orderly place. The matter was dropped.
• Almost weekly, The Landmark published reports of disagreements, drunken brawls, cuttings, shootings, and general licentiousness on Whiskey Shoot Alley. Saloon owner Stockton was known as a fighter, having been involved in several rather severe altercations, usually instigated by political rhetoric, and probably fueled by booze.