Old Time Country Store Left Behind in Florida

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Hall Family House & Store | Columbia County, FL | c. early 1920s

No matter how many times you come across it, it still is so unsettling to find an abandoned home filled with the possessions of its last inhabitants. As connected as we are to our things, it seems so strange that someone could just leave all of theirs behind.

The floors of this particular home were covered in mementos from a life that had lived here long ago. Clothing, shoes, a television, a couch, photos, and letters signed in by Elsie in 1992 were strewn about, leaving me with so many questions.

Who was Elsie? 

When was the last time she stood here over this sink? What changed so quickly that she and her family would leave without their things? My imagination spins even now as I consider the possibilities; perhaps there is some fantastic story to unravel here. Or maybe we will find that this place is like so many others. Forgotten by younger generations of family who have moved away, or caught in inheritance issues, or too isolated to be of any use.

In any case, standing here above the sink and glancing out the kitchen window, it was hard not to feel sad that this room no longer serves the important purpose that it once did. The fireplace in the next room has no reason to be stoked nowadays, and the pillows tossed about have no heads to cradle after a hard day’s work.

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Filled with this many artifacts, the home felt like a museum; a preserved time capsule that has held on against storms and the overgrowth that swallows much of this property. These kinds of museums have no lines, no admission fees, no velvet ropes. And even though they stand all around us, you have to keep your eyes open to find them. Inside each one, lies a new mystery.

The Hall Family

This building served as a gas station, convenience store, and home to a family who lived in the building. It was built by John Raleigh Hall in the late 1920s or early 1930s. A local message board is filled with comments about memories of school children walking to this store after class to get a cold beverage or treat. Elsie was his daughter who lived in this home until her death.

John Raleigh Hall at his house

John Raleigh Hall
Ada Alford Hall at her home
Elsie Hall in Front of their home/store
Mary Benton Hall in Front of their Home/Store

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  1. I’ve passed by this beautiful old building many times and often wondered what it’s history was. Thank you for posting and sharing.

  2. So sad to see that this family left everything they had …clothes, pictures, dishes and such. As hard times hit families such as this back in the 1920’s and 1930’s this family had to leave such behind as they had no way of packing up and move on so they left everything behind as a lot of families did. I bet to step in and find this as it was to almost step back in time to the 20’s and or 30’s was a real treat for the photographer and at most a tear filled experience (I know I would have been wiping my tears away as I snapped photos). As American families are going through the rough times of today we find ourselves living much like this family living during the Depression era. So with that in mind if our ancestors form this time can get through this horrible time we can too! God Bless all of you!

  3. I love these stories and the photos. It’s just so sad that no one in the families care enough to try and save any of them it seems. Thank you for the stories and photos.

  4. This story is so intriguing and poignant and made me very sad. I’m imagining that the parents died but what happened to Elsie that she didn’t even clear out the house. Where were her letters postmarked? 1992 isn’t really that long ago. Combination store/houses were common during the early to mid 20th century throughout the South.

  5. Days gone by, the country “general store”, somehow how we tend to forget that it/they were the first ‘super centers’ that had everything from sewing thread to gasoline. Some even housed the local Post Office.

  6. My maiden name is Hall but, to the best of my knowledge, we never had any relatives in Florida – so far all have been in Virginia. I’ll have to have our “keeper of the ancestry” do some further checking!

  7. Being a Floridian, I listened to so many stories about Florida.
    So many of the old school, hated seeing Florida changing by “Progress”. My brother and I walked through an orange Grove going to school. We had a fresh orange on those days. The Grove is gone, destroyed for more people and homes.
    Thank you so much for all the history and memories!!

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