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A Community Clubhouse

Clubhouse at Garrett Snuff Mills, ca. 1920s

Clubhouse, ca. 1920s. Photo, courtesy John R. Harrison.

Built in 1921, the clubhouse was a joint project of the National Vulcanized Fibre Co. and the George W. Helme Company (snuff manufacturer). The snuff company provided the land, and the fibre company put up most of the money to construct a modern two-story structure. Built as a recreational center for millworker families, it featured a single-lane bowling alley, barber shop and several other small rooms for activities on the first floor. The second floor housed a large auditorium, with a stage and dressing rooms as well as a projection booth for showing silent black-and-white movies.

By the mid-1930s, other pastimes lured away the clubhouse audience, and the building reverted to storage. Following WWII, however, new opportunities arose when Calvin Hastings proposed establishing a Boys’ Club and joined with Tom Marshall, who longed to run a movie theater. The two partnered to oversee the second-floor area, which opened in early 1947.

The Club House Theater offered one show on Tuesday and Friday nights for 25¢ admission (movies in Technicolor were 35¢) but was closed during summer. Mary Gregg donated her time to sell tickets, and the Boys’ Club set up ping pong tables and other activities in the auditorium when a film was not being shown. Attendance proved disappointing, and by spring 1948, the Club House Theater closed.

The original clubhouse building featured a porch on two sides and provided a venue for amateur stage shows, movies, bowling contests, and crafts in the small first-floor rooms. Tom Marshall’s first memory of the building is from the late 1920s, when he was taken to the barber shop there for a haircut. 

Dew Point Brewing Co., 2016

Dew Point Brewing Co.

When the George W. Helme Company closed the Yorklyn snuff mills in 1954, the Worth Brothers of Wilmington purchased the property and renovated the old clubhouse building to serve as their offices. Acquired by Dan Lickle in the 1980s, the site enjoyed its next renaissance, with a variety of shops and businesses operating in the historic buildings until damage by the floods of 1999 and 2003 left most uninhabitable. Owner Dan Lickle has now refurbished the clubhouse and is working to revitalize the Garrett Snuff Mills, a process that began with the arrival in 2016 of Dew Point Brewing Co. which now occupies the former snuff mill mechanics quarters.