Storefront Photos

Over the last couple of years, multiple folks in the media have asked me for photos of the old storefronts. It’s one of those things that comes up once a month so, finally, I broke down and started searching online and through the mildewed boxes in storage.  I’ll post some highlights from my collection so far… Many of them were untitled and undated, so I’ve had to piece things together from memory. If I have a storefront wrong and you’re one of those local history types, give me a shout!

First up is the Arlington store on Lee Highway.  The cars tell me it’s late 40’s early 50’s, eh?

The Bethesda store on Wisconsin Avenue was the jewel in the crown. The second store opened, in the early 40’s, and the first to close in 1982.

Wisconsin Avenue, circa 1940…

And in the late 50’s…

And the interior of the Bethesda store…

The HQ — the “Plant” — was in Silver Spring on Georgia Avenue. The first store, built in 1938.

I’m still debating with family members, but I now think this is the Silver Spring store. The car has me thinking this is early 40’s.

A better shot of the Silver Spring store. The back of this photo says it’s 1955, but I think it’s later.

And now we’re moving into the modern era. Looks like 1970 or so to me. The caption says “1960’s.”

The last store to close was the one at Bailey’s Crossroads in Virginia. It stayed open until the middle of 1985, ordered to sell off the rest of the Gifford’s inventory to attempt to pay for the debts my dad ran out on. The store is now the Bailey’s Crossroads Cleaners and is, remarkably, intact. I wonder if there are any unexplored corners of their basement.

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3 Comments

  1. Sarah Lynn Dillon

    I was happy to see the update in the “Post” recently, and very glad to see you are doing well. I believe I wrote to you when the first Post article came out, wishing you well at that time, and expressing my condolences on the death of your mother. I have a photo of your parents, taken at my daughter Kate’s confirmation. It seems possible you wouldn’t want to see it, but if you want a copy, I can easily send you one. I think there are some snapshots of you, with my kids Michael and Patricia, playing on a slip n’ slide shortly after your father left. I don’t suppose you would want to see those–you are three soaking wet, thin children, and that’s about all the picture conveys. I do look at this Web site once in a while, and I always marvel that you have a grownup voice, and such an articulate one. Surely you are not surprised you grew up, but I always have trouble seeing the children of friends as adults in their own right. Remember me to your grandfather, if that is possible. I had such admiration for him and your grandmother also. Best wishes from all the Dillons, Lynn

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  2. Richard Sutton

    Thought-provoking post. Bygone destinations are especially provocative if they once housed your own employment, or your own business! The carved mahogany sign that hung for 19 years in front of our family gallery in Cold Spring Harbor, LI, not sit across the joists in my barn, to provide a platform for stacking boxes! At least I can write about it…

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  3. Andy

    Gifford’s! I’ve just found these pictures; what a flood of happy memories they brought back! The store on Wisconsin Avenue was where my mother always took us for a treat for getting good report cards, and other special occasions. To this day I’ve never had a hot fudge sundae as good as Gifford’s–the fudge came separately, in a little jug, so you could pour it on yourself and it was still hot and the ice cream hadn’t melted before you started to eat it. And what fudge! Thick and dark and not-too-sweet, and wonderfully warm and gooey. And the peppermint-stick ice cream! And the caramels! My mom used to send them to me in care packages after I’d gone off to college. They were soft and sort of melted in your mouth, instead of getting stuck all over your teeth like ordinary ones–perfection!

    If, as I’m gathering from your comments, this was your family’s business, I just want to say a THANK YOU for all the happy times and happy memories! Gifford’s. There’ll never be another place like it. *Sigh*. . . .

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