Promise' Land, NC Landmarks

"Old Evans Street Landmark Goes"

It's being torn down. The leaning landmark on Evans Street at 12th is finally going. But it didn't go while its owner, Kilby Guthrie Jr., was living.

Mr. Guthrie, or "Kib" as everyone knew him, died in August. For years prior to that time, the building in which he operated his grocery store, was as well-known in Morehead City as is the leaning Tower of Pisa,

Someone exclaimed to one of Kib's cronies one day, "I don't know why his building doesn't fall!"

"How can something fall that's already fell?" came the surprised retort.

The building leaned to the east-ard, the cans on the shelves slid to the east-ard, yet the story goes that "nary a one ever fell off." People would ask, "Why doesn't the building inspector DO SOMETHING about that building? Its unsafe."

Well, once upon a time, no less an official body than the town commissioners of Morehead City decided that Kib would have to obey an ordinance. They may as well have saved their time and breath.

The town fathers said that obstacles blocking sidewalks had to be moved because they were a hazard to pedestrians. This included kerosene pumps such as that which Kib had by the curb in front of his store.

A letter was sent to the store owner telling him that his pump would have to be moved. The pump stayed. One of the town commissioners became rather irate and demanded that the chief of police "go down there and tell him hes got to get it off the sidewalk."

Older and wiser commissioners did not think this would help matters, but said nothing. the chief of police went to see Kib. At the next town board meeting, the chief reported that he had been to see Kib and if any of them wanted that pump moved they'd best see to it themselves.

The pump never budged. The arrow in the picture points to the spot on the walk where, as long as Mr. Kib was running the store, that's where the his kerosene pump was.

Mr. Kib was of the independent breed, with Shackleford blood in his veins, who minded his own business as expected others to mind theirs.

His father, Kilby Sr., operated the store before Kib. The original building (and the one being torn down is probably the original) was built in the 19th century, after the Civil War, by Darious Ballou, a Yankee soldier who fell in love with a Morehead City girl in 1862. After the war, he returned and married her.

When Darious Ballou died, the store was operated by his son, W.A. Ballou. Old-timers recall that for a time after W.P. Adams, merchant, lost most of his assets in the fire of 1908, he occupied the building.

It, eventually, was acquired by A.T. Moore, who in 1920 sold it to Kilby Sr., after the elder Guthrie was discharged from the Coast Guard. The price for building and stock in the store was $1,400.

Not many neighborhood stores like Kib's store are left these days. Certainly not any with a tilt to the lu'ard and a roller coaster roof. It, like Kib himself, will be missed. And stories by the "Whale Creek Club" members, who gahtered in the store to tell of whaling and storms, are only memories.

Story credit: Carteret County News-Times

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