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What is the history behind Hughes Bros.?

Ben Steelman

The Hughes Brothers building on Market Street is a longtime landmark.

Brothers J. Winder Hughes and James B. Hughes launched their original automotive service station in 1921 at Second and Market streets, Wilmington [Map this] — about where the present Cooperative Bank/First Bank building is now located.

As early as January 1922, the Hughes Brothers sought and received permission from the city of Wilmington to erect a filling station at the corner of 11th and Market streets, which they promised “would constitute an ornament to the community,” according to newspaper stories. Not all the neighbors agreed, apparently; the news accounts noted some vocal opposition.

Still, when Hughes Bros. got around to opening its distinctive red-and-white headquarters at 1101 Market St., Wilmington [Map this], in 1935, it would seem the brothers kept their promise. The Art Deco structure has been recognized by preservationists as a prime example of mid-20th century commercial architecture.

Hughes Bros. is still in business, billing itself as North Carolina’s oldest tire dealer. It has sold Firestone tires since the beginning and now also offers the Bridgestone brand. The Market Street station is still open, as well as a second location at 145 S. College Road, Wilmington [Map this], in Marketplace Mall. In addition to automotive, truck and heavy-vehicle tires, the company offers garage services, including alignments, tune-ups, brake service, air conditioning service and N.C. state inspections. The company sponsors or co-sponsors a number of local sports teams, including the Seahawks at the University of North Carolina Wilmington.

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5 Responses to “ What is the history behind Hughes Bros.?”

  1. On January 14, 2010 at 12:22 pm hilda trulin wrote:

    My family can attest to the great service that Hughes Bros. provides. They have got to have the best mechanic in town – simply “Joe”. We could always count on an honest assessment of our “jalopies’s” ailments. We moved to Brunswick county but will always go back to Joe for help.

  2. On January 14, 2010 at 1:12 pm clifton grant wrote:

    Isn’t the Hughes family connected to the Kenans in some way?

  3. On January 17, 2010 at 10:46 am HB Customer wrote:

    These guys are great, especially Russ. They’re always very honest and won’t do any work on your vehicle unless you need it. I always go tho them for a second opinion, especially when one of the car dealers here in town tell me I need some work on my new vehicle.

  4. On January 20, 2010 at 9:00 pm Richard wrote:

    I might add they have another location near MarketPlace Mall just off College Rd.

    I agree Hughes Bros. provides good service…sure they are slightly old fashioned, but what’s wrong with that!

  5. On February 4, 2010 at 10:57 am Dave Ross wrote:

    Only Heaven knows how many times I’ve driven by this wonderful landmark in the 15 years I’ve lived in NC. And each time I said, “Gotta find out the story about this place.”

    Today, a friend sent your article to me and now I know “the rest of the story.”

    Frankly, because the clearance is so high I thought it had been a Dunkin’ Donuts Drive-Thru for submarines.


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