'Beautiful Suburb' exhibit to focus on High Point's West End community

Aug. 26, 2013 @ 01:00 AM

Kimberly Mozingo sees the West End community for what it once was — a bustling business district — and wants other High Pointers to see that, as well.
“When you drive down English Road and look at those buildings, there’s not much there now,” says Mozingo, who’s researching and creating an exhibit about the West End for the High Point Museum. “But I’m trying to show that this was an important part of High Point and that it had a history beyond what most people think of.”
The exhibit, titled “The West End: A Beautiful Suburb, 1923-1950,” will open Sept. 27.
Mozingo, a docent in the museum’s Historical Park, is a graduate student at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where she’s working toward a master’s degree in history, with a concentration in museum studies. The exhibit, which will focus on the 1500 block of English Road, is a requirement for her degree.
“I want to reveal the hidden history of this block, because all people seem to remember is the low-end bars and the bad reputation of this area,” she says. “That’s justified, but it doesn’t tell the whole story of this once-thriving commercial area.”
According to Mozingo, the West End got its name from the fact that it represented the west end of the trolley line that once ran through High Point.
The community began to grow and develop in the 1920s, after Charles L. Amos opened Melrose Hosiery Mills there.
“He was pivotal in getting that area built up — he built his hosiery mill there, and businesses started moving in,” Mozingo says.
“About 1923 and ’24 is when it really started building up, and by ’49, where my research ends, it was a completely functional, thriving retail district. You had a movie theater there, restaurants, beauty parlors, barbershops, a watch store, a shoe store, grocery stores, drug stores, you name it.”
For example, the West End included such businesses as West End Furniture, National Food Stores, West End Hardware, the Ritz Theatre, West End Barber Shop, Tree Top Bottling Co., Hamilton Florist, Cecil-Simpson Drug Co., Rose Furniture, Sartin Dry Cleaning Co., C.A. Ring & Sons Drug Store, Standard Barber Shop and more.
“If you went to downtown High Point and then went to the West End, it would be a miniature version of what was downtown,” Mozingo says.
In a 1929 article in the High Point Enterprise, the writer described the community as a “beautiful suburb,” which is where Mozingo got the title for her exhibit.
She’s been able to find a few photos for the exhibit, but she’s looking for more.
“I’ve hit a dead-end trying to find photos, but I’m not convinced they don’t exist,” she says. “Somebody somewhere has to have some images of these businesses during that time. I want to see what those buildings looked like when they were being used, because that will show people that the West End was once thriving and was an important place in High Point.”
jtomlin@hpe.com | 888-3579

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“The West End: A Beautiful Suburb, 1923-1950” will open Sept. 27 and continue through Nov. 9 at the High Point Museum, 1859 E. Lexington Ave.
A luncheon featuring a panel discussion about the West End will be held Oct. 11, from 11:30 a.m. until noon.
If you have photos or other materials that could be used in the exhibit, or for further information, contact Kimberly Mozingo at 880-4005 or kdmozing@uncg.edu. You may also contact Marian Inabinett, curator of collections for the High Point Museum, at 883-3185.