Picturing The Past: James Bromfield Served As Businessman And Civil Leader

 

August 12, 2019

James S. Bromfield, pictured at the far left, was an active community leader in Brevard. He served as chief of the Brevard Fire Department for about 25 years. Bromfield resigned as fire chief in 1939.

James Bromfield moved to Brevard in 1906. He purchased a lot near the depot to establish a coal and wood yard to supply fuel to local customers. In 1908, he was given permission to extend a rail spur across Whitmire Street to his property allowing for delivery of materials and expansion.

He also purchased additional lots in the area around the depot that he leased to other businesses. One lot was used to store dogwood for the Fontaine Block Factory, where shuttle blocks for textile mills were made.

Bromfield was involved with numerous other businesses, including building supplies, delivery service, a brick factory, an ice factory and a laundry. Ice was shipped from Charlotte and distributed by Bromfield until 1912 when he built an ice factory in Brevard. The town of Brevard provided up to 10,000 gallons of water a day for making ice to meet the demand in communities from Penrose to Lake Toxaway.


Bromfield's fuel, ice and laundry business employed 15 people by 1922. In 1934, Bromfield sold his ice business but continued to operate his wood, coal, laundry and transfer business until 1945.

In 1921, a group of local men organized Citizen's Telephone Company. They purchased the former Brevard Telephone Company and expanded it into Pisgah Forest and other areas of the county. Bromfield was the president and general manager until 1937 when he sold his interest in the company.

In 1922, he built one of the first filling stations in Transylvania County on Caldwell Street. He built additional filling stations in Brevard over the next several years. Charles Patton leased the station on the corner of South Broad and Morgan streets for many years. The Bromfield family still owned it in 1960 when Mrs. Bromfield died.

As a businessman and civic leader, Bromfield was a stockholder with the Brevard Building and Loan Association, a member of the Brevard Club and the Transylvania Merchants Association. The Brevard Club, located on the third floor of the auditorium, was a gentleman's club with a lounge, reading room, card and pool rooms and a dining room. It provided businessman with a place to relax, read newspapers and magazines and meet with friends. They also promoted Brevard and Transylvania County for businesses and tourism.


In 1923, the Chamber of Commerce was created for the purpose of the advancement of the commercial, industrial, agricultural, economic and civic interest of Brevard and Transylvania County. Bromfield was a founding member of the Chamber of Commerce and the president in 1927-1928.

He had also been the building inspector for town of Brevard, was a member of the Board of Aldermen and served on the Board of Education. In addition, Bromfield belong to the Knights of Pythias, Dunn's Rock Masonic Lodge and Woodmen of the World.


(Photographs and information for this column are provided by the Rowell Bosse North Carolina Room, Transylvania County Library. Visit the NC Room during regular library hours (Monday-Friday) to learn more about local history and see additional photographs. For more information, comments or suggestions, contact Marcy at marcy.thompson@transylvaniacounty.org or call (828) 884-1820.)

 
 

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