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history’s stories

Fredericksburg Greek Colony By Ralph “Tuffy” Hicks Recently while enjoying a meal in one of my favorite restaurants in Fredericksburg “The General Store” the owner Bill Kertos, presented me with a book found in the renovation of a downtown building entitled Fredericksburg Greek Colony 1908-1933. Bill who is a long time friend and Fredericksburg resident is of Greek descent; having come to the United States alone as a young boy in the 1950’s, is a story to be told at a later date.


The book was printed in 1933 with a foreword by the Mayor of Fredericksburg R. J. Payne. He mentioned a restaurant owned by the Pappandreau family and the Athens Hotel owned by the Acrious family in his introduction. He would open his business, “Doxasi ho Theos! (Glory be!). A Greek would then hang his coat and hat, plunge into the Mercurial game of selling perishable merchandise, with a stock of English words garnered indiscriminately and spoken in fiery Greek accent.

George Calamos came to Fredericksburg in 1908 and opened his store on Main Street (Caroline Street) and named it Olympian Confectionery. John Pappandreau who was a teacher in his native Greece and came to America like Calamos and started in the Restaurant business in Fredericksburg. John returned to his native land for a visit and met Katina whom he married and brought back to the old historic city and she is said to be the first Greek damsel here. Soon to follow was George Virvos whose family is still well know in the city for the famous “Pool Room hot dogs” located on William Street. Jim Calamos came to Fredericksburg and opened the Liberty Confectionary across from the train depot. Jim was killed in an automobile accident. His brother Nick took over the business. The Calamos name is still well known in business. Having known Bill Kertos I find that the book when it explains the Greek quality of life to be very accurate in that it describes him as: Gregarious and pleasant of word to his patrons, diplomatic with a very strong work ethic and honest in his relationships. I had the pleasure of serving on City Council with Jim Gouvenides who owned a clothing store in Fredericksburg and was proud of his Greek heritage and instrumental in the yearly Greek festival. Several other Greek owned ventures are mentioned including the Victory Café (George Calamos), Washington Restaurant (Pete Manjouranis), Savoy Café (Tony Porfios), White House Café (Theo Doumas), and Fredericksburg Billiard Parlor (Theis Kataphiotis) Central Lunch (Andrew Tavlaris). This is just one of those untold stories of our Historic City. Many of these names have faded into the past; however, many of them are still contributing daily to our quality of life, such as the Family Forum along with the General Store. Dedicated to Dr. Wyatt Thompson, Robert Tyler and Roy Lee Tuffy Hicks continues to educate us on Virginia history each month in this space.

For those of us who remember albums, buying a new 45 with the latest single was a moment to behold. But flipping that record over and realizing that the song on the reverse side was a hidden and unexpected gem? Even better! Welcome to Sophia Street—the flip side of the busy historic Route 1 corridor. On September 6th, the Historic Fredericksburg Foundation, Inc. and other community groups will come together to celebrate the legacy of U.S. Route 1. Tremendous attention was paid to Princess Anne Street and Lafayette Boulevard (then National Boulevard) when they became the official Route 1 thoroughfare through Fredericksburg in 1926. Caroline & William Street remained commercial corridors throughout the twentieth century. But where did that leave Sophia Street? A first glance would suggest that this area was left behind— what was once a prominent riverfront landscape became a haven for rental homes, warehouses, & parking lots. A closer inspection reveals the “gems” of twentiethcentury Sophia Street and the significant buildings, objects, and archaeological sites that are notable components to the historic fabric of our town. What is today 523 Sophia Street is the oldest confirmed building in the city. Built as Thornton’s Tavern in 1746, the structure later housed Hunter’s Store. It was a private dwelling during the nineteenth century. By the early-twentieth century, though, this 200-year-old building was the home of Genzberger and Brother junk shop and taxidermy business. Who would have thought that this historic tavern took in not patrons in the 1920s, but raccoons, muskrats and minks! Next door was the Rowe-Goolrick house. Now a parking lot, this important home was built in the mid-eighteenth century and faced south onto the historic wharf road at the foot of today’s Wolfe Street. This dwelling was the war-time home of future Mayor Absolom Rowe, and

Spotlight On the virginia deli By mary lynn powers

The Rowe-G Goolrick House at 607 Sophia Street in the late 1940s (National Park Service). The home was demolished in 1973 to make way for a parking lot. was later owned by the Goolrick family. The city’s only public ice house was on the same block, and the workshop of notable Fredericksburg architect Peck Heflin stood across the street. Further down Sophia, the road to City Dock was lined with tenant homes and factories, including a tannery and warehouses to store goods that once arrived by railroad, steamboat, and later automobiles. Most are gone today, but all were a very important cog in the operation of daily life in early-twentieth century Fredericksburg. HFFI will be celebrating the twentieth-century history of Sophia Street and the Route 1 corridor during its annual Vintage Route 1 Event on Saturday, September 6. A guided tour of Sophia Street will include stories and information on locations along this forgotten corridor. Tickets are on sale now at 540371-4504 and Riverfront Park will also be filled with fun FREE family activities from 10 a.m.–5 p.m. For more information please visit

For those sandwich fans, Virginia Deli is a great option downtown. I dropped in on Linda and Allen Freeman, owners of above mentioned eatery, and we talked about their recent move and the business in general. For those who were not familiar with the Virginia Deli that was located at the bottom of William St. before the bridge, you really should try the new spot on Caroline St. The deli has moved into what was the Virginia Wine Experience shop located at the corner of George and Caroline. Linda said they had been watching for a location that would allow for more visibility, and finally one opened on Caroline Street. The prior location on William St. was always visible with stand up cutouts of historic figures, but just one block off the main thoroughfare can make a big difference in the volume of a small business. The menu has not changed extensively, though there are a few more historic names given to the different

sandwiches. Some old favorites such as the Abigail, a basic turkey and swiss on sour dough have returned. They slipped a Grant in there, a basic BLT on white toast. Some of the names given to the sandwiches are local historic spots such as the Rappahannock (pastrami and swiss on rye), the Ferry Farm (chicken salad and bacon), and a new chicken breast sandwich called the Belmont. I’m a big fan of the James Monroe, which is a roast beef and cheddar on sourdough with mushrooms, onions and a special sauce. They also have Bart’s Dogs, hickory smoked all beef hot dogs. This spot is always a hit when company comes to town, and you take them on the obligatory Fredericksburg history tour! I asked Linda how she became involved with the restaurant business.She explained that they had owned an automotive transmission shop in Woodbridge for many years, but lost the building due to zoning and an eminent

domain clause. Allen had been in the automotive business for most of his life, but decided to try something totally new. Now comes the fun part - many times we hear of children learning the family business, but in this case it worked the opposite. The Allens’ son, Chris graduated from Johnson and Wales, a prestigious culinary school, and he had run several businesses in Roanoke and Richmond. So they decided to enlist Chris’s skills to learn the restaurant business. Though they had small business know how, they admitted that opening and successfully running a restaurant was a totally different beast. But seven years later, they are still at it, and going strong. Allen said they are not the kind of people who sit still for too

long, so who knows what the next venture could be. So, stop in and try a historic grilled or deli sandwich, or create your own. The prices are reasonable, the atmosphere is down home pleasant and the grub is simple and delicious. Virginia Deli is open daily from 11:00 to 4:00 at 826 Caroline St. Mary Lynn Powers brings us news on local businesses monthly.

Dr. Kerri S. Barile is President of Dovetail Cultural Resource Group in Fredericksburg, is active on the HFFI Publications Committee, and has done extensive research on Sophia Street.

Central Rappahannock

HERITAGE CENTER Volunteers needed to process historical documents and aid researchers. Training provided. Phone 540-373-3704 or email Open to the public for scholarly research

The Heritage Center 18

September 2014

Maury Commons

900 Barton St

Front porch fredericksburg

Fredericksburg front porch fredericksburg

September 2014


Front Porch Fredericksburg - September 2014  
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