Ghosts of Things Past.

Or: Devil Worshiping Teenagers set fire in Abandoned School.

Perhaps this is the most random and disjointed thing I have put together here, but it answers a lot of questions.

I was never in the old GFA “Brick Building.” The last students left it years before I was born, when in 1975 the “new” primary school was opened-down behind St. Catherine’s Street-I guess technically Maple Avenue. But boy was that old place spooky!

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Still from a film taken in 1975. The “Brick Building” was either still in use or had just closed at that point and the old GFA wooden building was still standing.

I remember being around it in the night time shortly before it was torn down, and that it gave you a serious case of the heebie-jeebies. After all, by that point the darn thing had been vacant for something like twenty years. And then there were the rumors about the Satan worship. I was definitely too young to have heard about the Satan worship at the old brick building, back when I first heard about it back in the 1980’s. I couldn’t have been any more than six, but most of the neighborhood kids were a few years older, so I probably heard it from them. So all I really remember are fragments of things about: fire, pentagrams, graffiti, and possible cat sacrifice. For sure this was the unholy work of teenagers, who were most definitely under the influence of heavy metal music. Ozzy was commanding them to go into this creepy old building to conjure up the dark lord. A good buddy of mine wrote a paper on this for a folklore course, along with some other urban legends from Grand Falls-Windsor, including one about the guy who jumped of the mill bridge for a case of beer. There has to be a fragment of truth somewhere.

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Boarded up and creepy; the old GFA “Brick Building.” Built in 1928, it was only 7 years older than GFA on Lincoln Road, but at least 7 times creepier having been used for decades. And for the record GFA Elementary was pretty creepy.

Younger people probably don’t know that story. They probably have no idea that there was once a big brick school on High Street, let alone anything about the rumored cat sacrifice. That old building was torn down about twenty two years ago and it was the last of three GFA buildings that were at that location. I don’t recall the other two still being there in my lifetime, though I might be wrong. If you mention creepy abandoned school to younger people, they are going to think you are talking about GFA Elementary.

Speak of the devil, does anybody remember when you could actually make out what was painted on “Devil’s Rock”? Wasn’t it supposed to be “Eddie” from Iron Maiden? Once again- the work of teenagers.

If you take a look around the past is, or was, everywhere.

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Jimi-Jax with the old NDA building in the background, 1988. At this point the building was being used partially as the YMCA Daycare and to offer college courses. (Decks Awash)

That parking lot between Jimi-Jax and the Roman Catholic Church, that used to where NDA stood. I guess it was sometime in the 1980’s when St. Mike’s went co-ed and St. Catherine’s became NDA. Then it served a multitude of purposes: part was the YMCA daycare, parts were used for community college purposes, pre-teen dances were held in the gym back in the 1990’s. Then sometime in 2002-03 it was torn down.

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Old NDA building and the Nuns residence. The Nuns residence was a substantial building many have probably forgotten about. I don’t remember it being there. To the best of my knowledge it was built around 1930, shortly after NDA.
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Another still showing the old NDA in the background. (Youtube)

The parking lot between the Theatre and Alteen’s, for years that was the fabled Royal Stores, and then for around twenty years it was the local Sobey’s supermarket. The Co-op Grocery store was in the vacant lot next to the Post Office.

That vacant lot at the head of High Street near the dummy that was originally the site of the Cabot House. For about 50 years before being torn down in 1958. Then it was a gas station, which had some other associated businesses, including a car dealership back in the 60’s and a barbershop. My Uncle Chris owned the gas station for a number of years. Later on Jim Cashin had it. It was a prime location to be the last stop for ice and beer when you were on your way across the river.

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Cabot House Circa 1910’s. After about 50 years as a well known establishment, the Cabot house was torn down in 1958. Soon after, a gas station was put on this location. Today it is a vacant lot, and will probably remain so.

That part of the Centennial field parking lot opposite the basketball court and the skate park? Well once upon a time that was the Grand Falls Swimming pool, it was pretty big, but was unfortunately plagued with structural problems from having been built on some sort of landfill. I don’t think I have, or have seen a picture of that pool when it was in operation, though I was probably in or next too it long after it was drained. The basketball courts, that used to be the helicopter pad. Where the helicopter pad is now, and the walking trails around it, well that used to be the dump too, they even had an incinerator there.

There was another swimming pool too, down between the river and Lincoln Road, parts of the concrete might still be there, though the pool is long filled in. For over twenty years that one operated. There are pictures of that one. When I was a kid there was a pool at Sutherland Drive playground. While I am on the subject, does anybody remember what was like a “secret playground” between Monchy and Suvla Roads?

Those apartments at Maple and Greenwood Avenue, they used to be the Girl Guide Hut. The apartments on Riverview Road, they used to be the Kin Center, before that it was the Boy Scout Hut, and was rumored to have been built from materials salvaged from Lord Northcliffe’s Log House. The Scouts still had events like regional Cub Car rallies there for years after the Kinsmen took it over.

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“The Bay” on High Street” Circa 1970. (Facebook)

Once upon a time the Bay was located near the Town Hall, and at some point there was also an Ayer’s Supermarket. Later on there was a coffee/doughnut shop called Smiley’s. Grand-Falls-Windsor didn’t have a Tim Horton’s until the mid-1990s, if you can imagine that.

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High Street in the 1960’s
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Original Loyal Orange Lodge-Beaumont Avenue. It was replaced by a concrete block building that is now an apartment building.
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Beaumont Manor. Originally the Orange Lodge. There was once a small store operated from here. Another store “Eisenhauer’s” and later “Effie’s” was located on the other side.
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There was once a store and a barber shop in this clump of grass and trees.

So what is the deal with the impressive looking apartment building on Beaumont Avenue by the United Church Parking lot? Once upon a time that building was the “Lodge” it was the local chapter of the Loyal Orange Lodge, a once very common Protestant Fraternal Order, roughly the Protestant version of the Knights of Columbus. Lodge “Interior” had been at that location since before there was even a Beaumont Avenue. This building is at least the second one at the site and was built in about 1932. I am not sure of when the Grand Falls Chapter of the Loyal Orange Lodge disbanded, but believe it must have been sometime in the 1970’s or 80’s.

While I am in the area, part of the Anglican Parish Hall is actually way older than the Anglican Church. It dates from about 1938-9 whereas the Church was built around 1960. Up on the hill behind the parish hall, up on Haig Road, that was where the fire horn tower used to be located. And the shed that the tower rested on, that is where Frankenstein lived. Or at least that is what we thought when we were six years old.

Down the road a little ways, in somebody’s back garden on Carmelite Road, I have heard you can still make out the remains of the first Grand Falls Academy School. The building was built during the first year, and was outgrown in a short period of time. I am not 100% certain, but it may have been used as Mike Shallow’s boxing and athletic club after it was abandoned as a school.

What about Hill Road Manor? What’s the deal with that big ole’ mansion? That was home to the long time Secretary Treasurer of the Anglo-Newfoundland Development Company, John S. Goodyear. For years Mr. J.S Goodyear was the only other Director of the Company besides the Vice President and General Manager to live in Grand Falls. In later years, Mr. Goodyear was also a Vice President of the Company as well. I am not sure if he was related to the more well known Goodyear family (he was also from Ladle Cove, so it is very likely), but he came to Grand Falls at an early age and was an early attendee of Grand Falls Academy before going on to the Methodist College in St. John’s.(Source) His father William was an early logging contractor with the AND Company.(Source). I am not sure if Goodyear was the original owner of the house, because it appears he was living on Riverview Road in 1935, but at the same time, there doesn’t seem to be a house at number 1 Hill Road in that Census.

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John S. Goodyear, Accountant, Secretary Treasurer, and later Vice-President of Finance for the Anglo-Newfoundland Development Company.

People often lament all of the buildings that have been torn down connected to the history of the town, but one very important example still survives. The old Carmelite House, which now houses offices for Central Health, before it was a seniors facility was the Staff House for the Anglo-Newfoundland Development Company. In its day it was a pretty impressive hotel.

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Cars outside of the Anglo-Newfoundland Development Company Staff House, early 1950’s. Built, owned and operated by the paper company, the Carmelite House was THE place to stay in Grand Falls.

Back in the 1960’s there was a pool hall and a bowling alley in the block of buildings that Greco Pizza, O’Reilly’s Barber Shop, and Brides is located. O’Reilly’s and Brides was there back then too! That big garage across the road, that for years was Pardy’s Tire was originally the Department of Highways depot. Back when it was built in the 1940’s it was actually on the highway!

One of the first fast food chains in Grand Falls, was Kentucky Fried Chicken, for decades it was on Lincoln Road in the strip mall. Before that many will remember a time when it was in a random location on Lincoln Road roughly across from the Grand Falls House.

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I believe this is a picture of the fabled first Kentucky Fried Chicken in Grand Falls.

Grand Falls also had two previous A&W’s, if KFC wasn’t the first chain to open up in town A&W was, I believe both of them burned down. The first was on Cromer Avenue, back when there was nothing on Cromer Avenue, the last one was where War-Wicks is now (where Baird’s used to be). I believe it burned or closed in 1982. McDonalds opened up around the same time, and it was well over twenty years before another A&W opened up.

The Exploits Valley Mall opened in 1974 and has had more businesses in it than I can think of. Wal-Mart has been there for about twenty five years, and believe it or not, it had one of the first Wal-Mart McDonalds in the province, which might explain the weird layout. Before it was Wal-Mart, it was Woolco, and Woolworths. Rossi used to be Hart, before that Bargain Giant, and years ago it was the Met. The Met used to have a lunch counter, with these lemonade tanks. There used to be a video arcade by the entrance opposite there. Anybody remember Bargain Harold’s? How about the “Target” where Dick’s and Company is now.

Marsh Motors used car building, the one where Donninis used to be, that used to be a discount store called Bi-Way, and before that Dalphen’s Department Store. A Co-op gas bar and a car wash were also at the location, so I think it may have started out as a Co-Op hardware store

And the list will keep going to the other side of the tracks. Main Street has its own share of historic vacant lots and re-purposed buildings.

The original Grant’s Shoe Store is in the old Vogue Theatre building. B and W meats is in the old Windsor Post Office. Originally Hunter’s framing was in the OTHER old Windsor Post Office. Besides Stewart’s, Windsor had a few other Grocery Store over the years too, most of them on Main Street. The Economy Store operated there for decades, and the last one besides Stewart’s that I remember was the Windsor IGA, down by GL Audio and the Fabric Boutique.

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Nobody will remember when Main Street was like this! There might be a few that remember when the station was actually on the Grand Falls side of the tracks.

There is going to come a time when most people won’t remember that the building on the south side of the Main Street from the above mentioned places was the Train Station. Regular passenger train service stopped over 50 years ago. Built around 1949 it served the passenger trains and later the CN buses, until about 1995. Or will they remember when there were actually tracks separating the two towns. You would have to do some searching to find somebody who remembers when the train station was actually on the Grand Falls side of the tracks.

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Windsor Train Station, Circa 1980.

Wayne’s Word, was originally the Globe Restaurant, and has always been in the Chow family. Then there is that substantial vacant lot next to Riff’s that was once to bustling Cohen’s Department Store. That business closed in 1988 Riff’s also moved their department store around this same time, ending an era on Main Street.

Believe it or not, at one time the United States Air Force operated a facility on the Eastern part of Main Street. It was a telecommunications repeater station and there were actually American airmen stationed there. This operated for a number of years back in the 1940’s and 50’s, until I believe it was taken over by CNT.

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Main Street, Windsor Circa 1967. The combined population of Grand Falls and Windsor back then was about what it is now.

Up from Riffs there used to be Tony’s Confectionery. Basically an arcade and candy store, owned by Tony Kim. It closed sometime in the 1990’s. Another gas station was located just up the road from here. An Irving Station, which was actually the first Marsh Motor’s Volkswagon Dealership.

Jim’s Clover Farm, to me will always be Max’s Mini Mart, but the building was originally part of the second St. Alban’s Anglican School. It is interesting to note that although all Protestant Denominations attended the same amalgamated school in Grand Falls from the very beginning, Windsor schools were still sub-segregated by individual church until about 1968. The building that used to be the Double S Lounge, started out as the original Anglican School. Windsor had a United Church School at one time, right on Main Street, right where Riff’s Furniture used to be, but that was so long ago I don’t think anybody knows about it. I think there may have been another United Church school after that, but I don’t have any solid information. Booth was originally the Salvation Army High School, with the associated Clyde Brooks Elementary.

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The original St. Alban’s School. Built in the 1930’s and used until sometime in the 1950’s.

Windsor also had Pentecostal Schools going back to the early 1930’s. There wasn’t a Pentecostal School in Grand Falls until 1968, but even then it technically wasn’t in Grand Falls. When F.G Bursey Central High School was built, it was outside of town limits. It was also a true regional high-school, with students coming in all the way from Point Leamington. Windsor Pentecostal Church was originally built with an attached elementary school, which was probably one of the shortest lived schools in town. It opened in 1995 and closed in June of 1998, due to the end of denominational education. I think the original GFA on Church Road was open longer.
For decades Grenfell Heights was referred to as the Botwood Highway-the earliest reference I can find to Botwood Highway being called Grenfell Heights is from 1961-and that most of it wasn’t part of the Town of Grand Falls at all. I think this was due to a technicality from when the Anglo-Newfoundland Development Company handed over ownership of the town. I believe the jurisdiction of Grand Falls roughly ended near where the Pentecostal Church is, I guess being the boundary of the portion of Reid Lot 59 which the Harmsworths acquired for the town-site. The Encyclopedia of Newfoundland and Labrador actually has an entry for Grenfell Heights.

Once upon a time there were actually some farms up on the Botwood Highway and area. One of these belonged to early Chinese immigrant John O. Gay. This was at Cruiser’s Brook and was closeer to the Railway than it was to the road. Cruiser’s Brook was a stop on railway time tables, though I am not sure of what infrastructure was there. It would be a challenge to tell there was anything there.

Another similar place is Gibson’s Feild near Corduroy Brook. This is the one of the few reminders of a once prominent Grand Falls Station Businessman. George Gibson owned a farm here, but he also owned an ice cream parlor, a movie theater, and a soft drink bottling plant on Main Street. Since Gibson left the area around 1939, there aren’t many traces of him left besides the name of the field. I guess that’s part of the reason why it is important to study and preserve history, if only to satisfy curiosity. There will always be somebody to ask: “What was there?” or “What is the story on that.”

No cats were harmed in the writing of this article. The truth of the rumors about the “Brick Building” have yet to be clarified.

-Bryan Marsh

2 comments

  1. Another good one Bryan, I gotta say I really enjoy reading about that town as eager as I was to leave it. I believe you may have nailed down a lot of places from my memory anyway.

    One place I didn’t see mentioned (albeit not quite built into the history of the town) was “Crazy Si’s” on High Street sometime in the 90’s. It was a whacky novelty shop much akin to the San Francisco franchise that came and went through every strip mall in the country.

    I also remember sometime in the 80’s going to a mom and pop coffee/donut shop of sorts also on High Street. If my memory serves me correctly it was on the corner close to Joe Byrne Memorial Stadium. My family would sometimes pop in there after church on Sunday’s.

    I totally remember the “secret” playground behind Monchy you were taking about. The Monchy Road gang would often organize baseball games in the field.

    Anyway, keep’em coming!

    Like

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