Nicky Nocchi's store

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History of Freeland, Pa.
Nocchi's Variety Store
What's on this page:
  • Photos and notes from Nick Nocchi's daughter
  • Map details and notes about the changes to Nocchi's corner over the years

The notes in the first section of this page were written by Nick Nocchi's daughter Barbara Nocchi Adomshick. She sent them to me, along with the photos, in April 2011.

Nicky Nocchi
                in front of his store Nicky Nocchi store Nocchi's Variety Store was located at the northwest corner of Centre and South streets and held a prominent place in Freeland for more than 65 years. The dream of Nick Nocchi, Sr. was to become a pharmacist. His dream could not be realized, however, because his ninth-grade education limited his ambitions.

[The photo at left shows Nicky Nocchi standing in front of his store.]

Nicky Nocchi
                  store Nicky Nocchi
                  store His first business venture began in 1939 in a building which was owned at the time by Marchetti's on the east side of Centre Street. It was here that five cent hot dogs, penny cigarettes, ice cream and onc-cent candy were the main fare.

His second move was in the building formerly known as Nassan's. Because of his expanding business and his desire to have a larger store, he purchased his final location in 1951 at the corner of Centre and South Streets.

Nicky Nocchi's
                  variety store A soda fountain, jewelry, cosmetics, children's clothing and cards were added as a few more offerings of the store. A Lucky Bucks Club was born in the mid-1950s. For each purchase, one was able to play a lucky bucks number and had a chance to win money. Everyone in the family at one point or another had the opportunity to work in the store. A topic of conversation at the dinner table most often included references to people by their lucky bucks number and not their name. In 1978, the Pennsylvania State Lottery machine was introduced to the business.

Nicky Nocchi
                store Nicky Nocchi store

With the death of Nicky Nocchi in 1980, his son, Nick Jr., took over the store and changed its destiny - his father's dream was to become a reality - Nocchi's Pharmacy was born. In 1981 Nick Jr. remodeled the store which had from the onset been divided into two parts. With the new pharmacy, the store was now one. In 1987, Nick Jr. sold the pharmacy to his sister, Patricia Zanavich, who operated it until 1995. Michael Lacey purchased it and operated "Nocchi's," and to improve the business he had the original building demolished and a new one built in its place. He conducted a very good business there for some time and then CVS took it over.

This next section shows how the buildings on that part of the block changed over time, with map details from 1895 to 1923.

                  corner, 1895 1895 and earlier: The earliest map I have for the area where the buildings were torn down (around and including Nocchi’s) is from 1895. That block of South Street between Ridge and Centre Streets only had a few buildings on the northern side of the street. On the west side of Centre Street, there was a mixture of homes and businesses.

Looking at that half block of Centre Street, the 1895 map shows the corner building as a duplex with a saloon on the corner and a dry goods store right next door. There there was a large lot with two homes on it, one smaller and one larger. There there was a three-story business duplex that held a furniture business and a millinery. Next to these was the small alley that would have run next to the current Pitman’s building. Behind the larger of the two homes was another building containing a cabinet shop.

Even before the dry goods store was in the northern half of the Nocchi’s building in 1895, an 1886 city directory listed “Herman Steiner, Varieties” here, and at some point later it was Polk’s Variety Store.

The building that was next to Nocchi’s on Centre Street, recently occupied by a telemarketing service, was a small home according to an 1895 map, but a city directory from that period lists “Daniel Gill, dry goods” there. Before this, earlier directories listed George Chestnut, Shoemaker at that site in 1884 and 1886.

The building next to that one (to the north), the larger of the two homes shown on the 1895 map, was approximately on the site where Brezina and Myers poolroom would later be until it was torn down in 1996. Although listed as a home in 1895, the site was listed in earlier directories as Manus Conaghan’s saloon in 1884 and Matthew Dening’s saloon in 1886.

The next building up the street was a three-story business duplex. The south side of the building in 1895 was occupied by Frank H. Albert, furniture maker and undertaker, as well as by Edward F. Madden, photographer. Earlier directories showed Vincent Passarella here, selling tobacco in 1884 and groceries in 1886.

The other half of this building (to the north) listed Mrs. J. (Helen) Mathers, milliner, here in 1895 and 1897.

                  corner, 1900 Nocchi's
                  corner, 1905 1900-1905: On South Street, a 1900 map indicates that a duplex home was built there sometime between 1895 and 1900 (the home that was torn down in March 2003, to the west of the old Rialto theatre). The lot where the Rialto would later be had had one large building on the west part of that lot, but by 1900 that building was remade as two smaller buildings, the smaller of which was a business of some sort. Charles Stumpf had reported that Timony Hall, later the Rialto, was built on the site of a former shoemaker shop and candy store. A 1905 map shows the smaller of the two buildings marked as a home. The larger side remained unlabeled on maps in 1900 and 1905, and the rest of the lot was still empty at that time.

On Centre Street, beginning at the corner and moving north, maps from 1900 and 1905 show almost no changes, except that the smaller of the two homes on the 1895 map was town down and a larger building put in its place, labeled “Confectionery.” The other buildings remained the same as shown on the 1895 map, except that the furniture business is shown as being vacant in 1905, and had apparently moved across the alley to the Pitman building. There isn’t much clear information available from city directories of the time. For example, the 1900 directory doesn’t give building numbers for many of the businesses listed, so it’s difficult to match listings to specific buildings without more information.

Nocchi's corner,
                1912 1912: The next map available is from 1912, and a number of changes are shown since 1905. On South Street, the two buildings on the lot then still marked 505-506 South Street were torn down and a large building built in their place. On the 1912 map this building is labeled “Dance hall – from plans.”

Meanwhile, on the half block of Centre Street between Nocchi’s and Pitman’s, several buildings were torn down and rebuilt, the new buildings all filling their lots more fully, including stretching back further, resulting in much denser commercial development.

It looks as though the corner two-story duplex building was left as is, although it’s hard to be cerrtain. The southern half of the building was still a saloon in 1912, while the northern half changed from dry goods to a drug store. The building next door changed from a confectionery to both a confectionery and jeweler’s shop.

The next building to the north, which in 1905 was a home surrounded by a bit of land, had been torn down by 1912 and replaced by a building stretching west 1/2 block. The front of this building was two stories tall and was divided into two parts. The larger section of the building on the south side held motion pictures and the smaller side to the north was a tobacco shop. A large one-story addition to the south side stretched west 1/2 block to the back of the lot and was part of the motion picture theatre there.

The next double building to the north was also either rebuilt or renovated by 1912. This three-story building, formerly housing furniture and millinery shops, now contained another tobacco shop and a hardware store, with another small building housing a tin shop at the back of the lot.

                  corner, 1923 1923: In the 1920s, businesses listed in this building included Samuel Morris’ Men’s and Boys’ Clothing Store (1928), Charles Rabinowitz, clothing (1921), and later Nassan’s clothing and shoes, which later moved across the street. Also listed at this address in the 1920s was a Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company store. Some directories listed Nassan’s as being located next door, so it’s difficult to be absolutely certain about the exact addresses without having more information.

Later Nocchi’s Pharmacy occupied both sides of this corner building, where it remained for more than 65 years, according to Nick Nocchi's daughter Barbara Adomshick.

Looking up the street, in the 1920s Louis Nassan, men’s clothier is listed at the building next door. Edgar Horn had a radio and TV repair shop there somewhat later. The most recent tenant was a telemarketing business. The next building, noted at 1912 as a motion picture theatre filling the side of the building that stretched all the way to the back of the lot, and a tobacco shop occupying the front of the upper/northern side of the building. In the 1920s, businesses listed at this site include Lester P. Trevaskis, Dentist (1921), John Novak, Billiards, Cigars & Tobacco (1921 and 1928), Sweeney Bros. Saloon (1928). A 1923 map replaces the “motion pictures” label on the large side of the building with one waying “pool room.” The 1952 telephone directory lists Brezina & Myers at this address under “Billiards Academies” in the yellow pages.  An advertisement in a 1960s high school yearbook lists J. W. Meyers Cigar Store at this site.

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