Flashback Friday: The Barbers of Brick Row

As recollected by Jack Conard Jr:
There used to be two barber shops in the north end of brick row, next to the railroad, across from where Catawba Avenue ended at Main Street. One shop was run by Clarence Blakely, and the other one was run by “Rutt” Norton.

Potts Barber Shop was originally located in “Brick Row”

Wilson Potts first worked with Norton, then moved and worked with Blakely, and later took over Blakely’s shop when he retired.

There was one pool table in the room between the two shops, accessible through a screen door, and through the arched doorway and down the stairs, one could take a hot shower for 25 cents.

The original Brick Row of OTC.

These shops operated till brick row was burned down in 1961. Then Norton moved to Davidson and Potts moved to the shop on Catawba Avenue where he and his son Mick still run the business.

Potts Barber Shop in the 1960s
The barbers of Potts Barber Shop today

Black History Month is an annual celebration of achievements by African Americans and a time for recognizing the central role of blacks in U.S. history. Take advantage with the cultural opportunities to share and memorialize our local heritage and the threads that weave our beloved community.

Smithville’s Roots

Founded in 1910, Smithville is one of the oldest communities in Cornelius, with roots dating back to the 1880s. The Smithville Community Coalition was formed in 2011 and is made up of residents, area citizens, non-profits and faith-based communities. Their vision is to revitalize and transform their community into a vibrant, safe and attractive place to live and work that builds pride in its residents and attracts new developments of affordable homes and businesses, focusing on empowering all individuals and strengthening families. One of the early founders of the Smithville Community was Wilson Potts. Potts built a legacy through his family business and the values of civic duty and service he instilled in the people around him. Potts Barber Shop was the site of a peaceful end to segregation in 1972. 

For 2019 Black History Month Event Listings, visit:

The following content was posted in Feb 2018:
Old Town Cornelius (OTC) has partnered with Smithville COmmUNITY Coalition (SCC) to host and promote various events, programs and exhibits to enjoy all month long!

Learn more: A Tribute to Wilson Potts is currently on display at Old Town Public House (OTPH), 21314 Catawba Ave along with art from F. Kernes, Monica Stewart, Christine Jopling and Selma Glass.

Jack has complied a Scrapbook of Smithville’s roots on exhibit at OTPH.

1:00 pm-3:00 pm
Town Hall, 21445 Catawba Ave
Presentations from Torrence Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, Hunters Chapel United Methodist Church and Union Bethal Africal Methodist Episcopal Zion Church. Free Community event, children’s activities, performances, and refreshments. Featuring works by Romare Bearden. Brought to you by Town of Cornelius Department of Parks, Arts, Recreation & Culture (PARC)

Warehouse PAC 9216 Westmoreland Road,
The 55 box intimate black box theatre will host the live performance by Michael Connor and a Q & A session about “The Foreshadowing of a People: Reflections from the Past,” or any other pieces in his body of work. The movie/documentary, “Filling the Gap” will also be shown.

Jack’s recollection of getting a haircut from Wilson Potts
Wilson Potts (center) led the Smithville Community well before Smithville was annexed as a part of the Town of Cornelius

Jack Conard, Jr. is Cornelius’ unofficial Town Historian. He spends his mornings writing in a journal, he spends his days collecting and archiving photos from the town’s roots to today. He spends his evenings at Old Town Public House sharing his knowledge. Pieces of his collection can be found in the History Room at Town Hall or at his home on Main St which his mom’s grand-dad lived in Cornelius was incorporated. Meet Jack.

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