When the building beside The Dog House restaurant was demolished a few weeks ago, the obvious concern among High Pointers was the future of the iconic eatery, where locals have been eating hot dogs and fried bologna sandwiches for generations.
Frankly, though, the demolition spawned another mystery that longtime residents have been trying to figure out: Why does the window on the side of The Dog House’s building — exposed when the adjacent building was torn down — say Daniel’s Dry Cleaners? Was that business there in the North Main Street building before The Dog House came along? And if so, just how long ago was it there?
“Our breakfast club was talking about it the other day,” longtime High Pointer Jerry Watson says. “We’re all in our 70s, and I’m 79. We all remember The Dog House being there, but none of us remember the dry cleaners. So when they tore that building down and exposed that window, we were all scratching our heads trying to figure out how that dry cleaners could have been there.”
High Point historian Roy Shipman, who has published books about the city’s past, wonders the same thing.
“I’ve never heard of it,” Shipman says. “And my wife (Victoria), a native of High Point, didn’t recall it, either. She’s been going up and down Main Street all her life, but she’s never heard of it.”
Nor has Jean Freedle, the longtime owner of The Dog House, who bought the restaurant with her late husband, Jerry, in 1975.
“No, I don’t know anything about a dry cleaners,” Freedle says. “I didn’t even know there was a window there.”
Unfortunately, this article may not shed much light on the mystery, and it may even ask more questions than it answers.
The mystery arose when the building to the right of The Dog House was demolished by Peters Development as part of a downtown development project. While The Dog House is not expected to be affected by the project, the now-cleared lot beside it will be home to a five-story building with retail space and high-end apartments, according to the developer.
The demolition of the former building exposed a window at the front right corner of The Dog House, on the side wall, where the window obviously has been preserved for decades. Some of the lettering has begun to peel, but the sign painted on the window clearly reads, “Daniel’s Dry Cleaners.”
Just inside the window — in the gap between the window and The Dog House itself — stands the back side of the restaurant’s interior wall. From inside the restaurant, that wall has an indention that looks as if there could have been a window there at one time. It’s currently used for displaying an American flag and newspaper clippings about the restaurant.
The discovery of the window obviously means that the space now occupied by The Dog House — and believed to have been occupied by the restaurant for more than 75 years — was at one time occupied by the dry-cleaning establishment. And that’s where the questions arise, because the timeline doesn’t quite line up.
The Dog House, which celebrated its 75th anniversary in the summer of 2017, is believed to have opened in July 1942, according to the oral history of the business, which has been passed down from one owner to the next. Furthermore, according to what the Freedles were told when they bought it in 1975, The Dog House has been in the same location its entire existence.
However, a search of old city directories indicates Daniel’s Dry Cleaners operated from that location as early as 1940 and remained there at least until 1945. Little is known about the business, except that it was managed by
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a woman named Novie Hardee, according to the directories. It also appears there was a second location on South Main, managed at different times by Nell Swann, Rosa Freeland and Cath Slaydon, and that location appears to have remained open through 1949.
To further muddy the waters, The Dog House doesn’t appear in a city directory until 1950, when it occupied its current location. To the right of the restaurant was Mann Drug Co. #2, a long-standing tenant of that building.
So did The Dog House actually open in 1950, rather than 1942? Or did it begin in 1942, operating somewhere else, perhaps under a different name? The Freedles were told the eatery was originally a pool hall that began serving food, so it could have operated under the pool hall’s name at first.
Regardless, though, it doesn’t appear that The Dog House has been in the same spot for 75 years, as the current owner had been led to believe.
Or has it?
Sometimes that’s the challenge of trying to peer into the past — even when you have a window to peer through.
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