The Bake Shop Building is located at 108 East Peachtree Street. It is an early 20th century, one-story brick building with glass display windows. When the architecture analysis was done, the right half of this building is covered with vertical wood siding and the left half is painted brick. Since that time, the siding has been removed and the building renovated, most recently by Richard Matthews.

Current view: Variety Bake Shop

A sample of the treats available at Variety Bake Shop.

1930s Bake Shop building in the Thomas Shipp photo

The earliest, unidentified photo of this business space is one of Thomas Shipp’s photos from the early 1930s. Notice the gap beside the bake shop building, showing that the Armstrong Building had not yet been built. Notice, too, the old jail in the background and the number of people still living on the square.

1939: capture from Bob Word’s movie of the bowling alley

The earliest business recorded at this location was a bowling alley, which we believe was known as Sportland and owned by WHOM. It was still at this location as late as 1949. Richard Matthews captured this partial bowling sign in Bob Word’s 1939 Scottsboro movie, and the yearbook ad that follows is from 1952.

When they were teenagers, both Jimmy Thompson and Jake Word worked a pin setters in the bowling alley. Jimmy recalls that the bowling alley offered both regulation-size pins and small “duck pins” that were struck with a small ball about the size of a softball with no holes. Both remembered that bowlers had little tolerance for waiting for the pin setter to finish his job, and it was a race to keep from being struck by an over-zealous bowler.

When the owner of the bowling alley died, Jake Word was his executor, and he arranged for the sale of the bowling alley space to Mr. Reed, the first bake shop owner.

1940s: Beginning of a bake shop at this location

The original Bake Shop opened at this location in the 1930s with Jimmie T. Reed as the owner. Mr. Reed also operated the bake shop and also operated a small cafe in the other side, as the ad below from 1949 shows. The 1949 Jackson County Sentinel announced that ownership of the bake shop was passing from Jimmie T. Reed to Aileen and Creed Dawson.

1949: Bake Shop in the JCHS yearbook

1952: beginning of Variety Bake Shop

The business became The Variety Bake Shop in 1952, as this ad in the Progressive Age shows, when it was passed to baker Fred Casteel and his wife Reba, who ran the business until Fred’s death in 2001.

Fred Casteel is remembered by customers as being a genial, reserved man who constantly had a silver filigree pipe clenched in his teeth. His cinnamon pastries were unequalled anywhere.

Fred assembled the Variety Bake Shop bowling team who sported peach-colored nylon shirts and included Bill Bradford and Dr. Carl Collins. It’s reported that Dr. Collins once left a tournament game to deliver a baby and did so within the space of one frame, never forfeiting his turn in the rotation.

After Fred’s death, a couple of unsuccessful new bakers operated Variety Bake Shop. It passed to the current owners Sherrell Frederick and her daughter Rosie Wilborn in DATE, who continue the recipes and traditions established by Fred and Reba. Reba Casteel still owns the building. The most recent exterior renovation was the work of Richard Matthews.

The second retail space in this building

The current bake shop is represents the merging of two retail spaces, but these two buildings were separate for many years.

After the bowling alley closed and later Jimmie Reed’s restaurant also closed, the right side of the building housed two optometrist practices, the first belonging to Jack Minks, son of the preacher at First Baptist (who later moved to the City Shoe Shop space currently occupied by Patty Cobb Stewart’s law practice). The second optometrist, Dr. Fred Himburg, can be verified in this location from 1956 (using the phone book) through the late 1960s

By 1970 this space was home to Bill’s Discount Shoes. According to what can be seen of this business in a photo of old city hall, this store specialized in “bankrupt merchandise close outs.” This business seems to have been gone by 1972, and the space was occupied by Mac’s Discount Shoes through at least 1975.

The Variety Bake Shop at some point took over the space designed at 106 East Peachtree, breaking through the wall that had divided the two businesses to form the current bake shop space.

August 2008, Bake Shop regulars

The Variety Bake Shop continues as a treasured Scottsboro tradition. Bill Bradford ate breakfast here every morning for 50 years, and many of the people who frequent the “regulars table” have been coming to the bake shop for longer than that. This photo, taken in August 2008, shows the bake shop regular customers who meet most mornings at the large round table in front.