QUESTION: I am trying to find some information about the Rodden Building (3723 W. Marshall Ave.), particularly its age. It is surrounded by buildings that appear to be the same age and have unique brickwork. I have not been able to find anything on the internet about these buildings. I’m from Shreveport and am researching the historic Jefferson Highway, which became U.S. 80.
ANSWER: I learned a lot about my old stomping grounds because of this question. (I grew up in the Pine Tree area in northwest Longview.) What we now know as Marshall Avenue or U.S. 80 was once known as Gladewater Highway and The Main Street of Texas as it passed through what was once known as Greggton. (Yes, there were actually addresses for “The Main Street of Texas.”)
That also made researching this question a little difficult, because the road names and addresses have changed and because Greggton was not originally part of Longview. At its own request, that area was annexed by Longview in 1959, according to old Longview newspaper articles I found.
As you noted, though, one of the buildings in a row of mostly run-down structures on Marshall Avenue just west of Pine Tree Road is labeled as the “Rodden” building, and it must have been truly beautiful at one time. I don’t know the official terms for the beautiful brick detail and designs on that building, but the structure certainly has character — the good kind.
Online appraisal district records say that building was constructed in 1929, but I found some articles and advertisements from 1933 that might refer to this building being constructed that year. I say might because I didn’t find photos to accompany the articles to verify it’s the same building, and, as I mentioned, the addressing has changed since that time.
I found a Feb. 16, 1933, newspaper ad celebrating the opening of Greggton’s first post office. It originally and temporarily was located in what was the “Leird Hotel,” with plans for it to move to a “modern, two-story brick building built on the Bun Rodden homestead.”
A Feb. 21, 1933, article is topped by this headline: “Greggton, now post office city, has real chance for future growth in business.” The article under the headline describes Greggton (formerly known as Willow Springs) as an “active community and business center three miles west of Longview.”
“A modern, new brick building, two stories in height and 25x50 feet in size is being built to house the Greggton post office. The structure is to be known as the Rodden Building. It is located on the north side of Main Street, which is the Longview-Gladewater highway, in the center of town.”
Newspaper articles I found show that the post office was co-located with the Hall-Wren Pharmacy at 1140 The Main Street of Texas, and the folks who owned the pharmacy also ran the post office.
I also checked in with local historian Gene McWhorter, whose family has long ties to the Greggton area and Longview. Bun Rodden, who died in 1946, is a first cousin to McWhorter’s great-grandmother Amelia Ann Rodden Echols. Rodden had two sisters, Sarah and Iona Rodden, and McWhorter said they were all “devoted members of Pine Tree Cumberland Presbyterian Church” and owned quite a bit of land in the Greggton area.
Q: How is the word semitism related to the Jewish people?
A: In the big picture of history, that word has only been recently associated with the Jewish people.
One of my favorite reference books at the library, “The Facts on File Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins,” provides this explanation for the word “semitic”:
“Germany historian August Ludwig von Schloyer gave this language group its name in 1781, taking it from the name of Shem, a son of Noah described in the Bible as the common ancestor of various ancient peoples who spoke this group of related languages. The principal languages in the group were Hebrew, Aramaean, Arabic, Ethiopic and ancient Assyrian. Later (ca. 1825) the word was applied to the people who spoke or speak these languages and it has most recently (ca. 1875) been used to refer primarily to Jewish people.”