Before there was South Danville, there was a place called Southtown.
“Southtown was at the south end of Memorial Bridge and at the north end of the overhead bridge,” said 87-year-old Dorothy Swaim, who grew up in Southtown.
The overhead bridge was actually a wooden bridge that was located where the bridge is now near South View Middle School, she said.
Southtown boasted a doctor’s office, two grocery stores, two filling stations and two churches, Swaim recalls.
One of Southtown’s more notable businesses was Harvey’s Poultry House, where Swaim said “you could buy any kind of chicken or eggs.”
“It was an area within itself,” she said of Southtown.
One of Swaim’s childhood friends from Southtown, 92-year-old Lucille Lyman, said Southtown children attended Grant School until seventh grade and Washington School for eighth grade before moving on to Danville High School.
Swaim said Southtown’s town square was located at the four corners of Bridge Street — the current location of which perplexes Lyman to this day.
“I lived in Southtown until 1940 and something I’ve always wondered about is why the city allowed Arby’s to build on what had been Southtown’s square,” Lyman said.
“It was houses all along there,” Lyman said of South Gilbert Street, which she said used to be known as Main Street in Southtown. “Anker’s Bakery was at the northwest corner of Second and South Gilbert streets.”
It also was in Southtown where another bakery, Price Brothers Bakery, got its start in the basement of the family’s home at Fourth and Stewart streets.
“For 10 cents you could buy as many day-old doughnuts as you could fit in a bag,” Swaim remembered.
Lyman is related to the Prices and also remembers the bakery well.