|City/Town: • Havana|
|Location Class: • Commercial|
|Built: • 1920s | Abandoned: • 2001|
|Historic Designation: • National Register of Historic Places (April 8, 2022) • Arkansas Register of Historic Places|
|Status: • Abandoned • Endangered|
|Photojournalist: • Tara Espinoza|
I have driven through Havana more times than I can count. It was just another town on my journey home until it wasn’t.
The town of Havana was founded in 1903. It currently has a population of 357 people; an abandoned store in the middle of town is what made me stop and notice Havana. The store in question was the McBride store, opened in the 1920s by Wayne McBride after deciding the banking profession was not for him.
The store was a family-oriented business from the beginning, and the town heavily depended on the store. During the depression years, the store stayed open, operating on credit.
Open 12-14 hours a day, and one of the few stores in Havana, people were dependent on the store. With its family-like atmosphere, the store was packed with customers, passersby, and the town’s gossip.
This was a farming town; the store sold horse collars, horseshoes, and other animal products. It also sold household products like coal oil for lamps, clothing items, and food supplies.
Residents of Havana could sell their extra eggs on the counter, buy Petit Jean bologna and enjoy the store’s classic staple of roasted peanuts.
Wayne had three children, Guinn, Delena, and Dolores, who spent their childhood in the store. Working before and after school helping customers, working the candy case and washing windows were some of their jobs.
In the 1940s, people started to leave small towns for big cities, and Havana was no exception. However, McBride’s store stayed, and Wayne’s son Guinn became owner and operator in 1956.
Part of the store’s appeal at this time was its home delivery service. They would deliver to people who were shut-ins or did not have a car. I learned through my readings that Guinn would often let kids of the town ride with him when he was making his rounds.
Many people recalled that the McBride store was a special place filled with memories and laughter. The store closed in 2001 after Guinn McBride passed away. He is survived by his wife, Frankie Lou Apple McBride, and their two daughters, Gwendolyn and Gayla. The building was listed on April 8, 2022, on the State Historic Register.
McBride General Store – Gallery Below
More Info here: Arkansas Heritage
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I’ve also driven past this building several times, but always on my way to somewhere else. Perhaps that is the epitaph for the long time community store?