Corinth was bustling with commercial activity in the period 1955-1965. While the downtown area that radiated from the corner of Main and West Maple Streets served as the community’s central business district, the Palmer section of town where the Hudson River Mill was located had its own small commercial center.
Holland’s photographs show Corinth as an example of a self-contained community that flourished before the age of chain and big box store development. Corinthians in these years could shop, dine and find entertainment in their own community. A wide selection of services was readily available in stores that were locally owned. Local ownership was significant since business owners who lived in the community in which their business was located had a vested interest in the town and the people who lived there. Local businesses were more inclined to support the local community, and their owners would often see their customers outside of their business, on occasions like Rotary Club breakfasts, community celebrations and school events. The closer proximity of business owners to customers also resulted in ethical business practices. The prevalence of locally owned businesses in Corinth in this period resulted in a defined social class whose collective influence in the community was often expressed through the work of the Corinth Rotary Club.
Corinth’s commercial activity was fueled by the economic stimulus provided by International Paper. In 1955 the annual salaries paid to Hudson River Mill employees totaled $8,000,000. Property taxes paid by the Company provided an additional economic impact, underwriting sixty percent or more of the costs of Village and Town government services. Corinth was never a traditional company town, but in these years its commercial fortunes were largely dependent on the operational and financial success of the Hudson River Mill.
Four supermarkets and seven “mom and pop” groceries were spread throughout the Village. There were three pharmacies, two hardware stores, eight gasoline filling stations, and three car dealerships that sold brand new Chevrolet, Pontiac and Dodge automobiles. Two stores offered furniture and large appliances. There was a movie theatre on lower Center Street, four restaurants in the downtown area, and no fewer than eight bars. There was a department store, a tailor, and a billiard hall on Main Street, and four bowling alleys were located in the Community Building. During these years Corinth even had its own hospital.
Most of George Holland’s photographs of Corinth’s commercial activity were staged to showcase local merchants, report on special store promotions, or to help with the introduction of new products. There are few candid photographs of the community’s business landscape. While Holland’s images offer a public relations view of Corinth’s commerce, their intended publication in the monthly EMBA News underscores the strength of the mill and community relationship that existed at the time.
Holland’s photographs of Corinth from 1955-1965 offer modern viewers a perspective from which to consider the extent to which Corinth’s commercial landscape has changed over the years, particularly since the closure of the Hudson River Mill in 2002. As the defining economic force within Corinth in this period 1955-1965, the Hudson River Mill also provided the stimulus to the creation and maintenance of a rich and engaging social system that stretched across the community.