Many pioneer names were involved in real estate in early downtown Lowell. The list included Halsted, Gerrish, Thorn, Nichols, Hill, Sigler, Castle, Keilman, Dubreuil, Ault, Hale, and many more who helped to start the downtown business district, some of whom were involved in the two buildings described below.
An old frame building that could have been constructed in the 1860's, stood where Mid Town True Value Hardware is now located at 306 E. Commercial Ave. Under the old address system, it was dubbed 124 W. Commercial.
In 1975, Marian Hayden wrote a paper on the history of downtown Lowell: "There was a harness shop where the hardware now stands. Later it was moved into the alley and the present building was built. It was Arnott's furniture store. After having two more proprietors, it was the movie house."
The Old Timer remembers that building at it sat to the south of the alley near the stream, occupied by Abram Callner, with many old farm tools about the yard.
The original part of the present hardware building was built in the early 1920's by Bernard Carlin, who was a West Creek farmer at the time. Carlin later moved to Lowell when he built his new home at the corner of Burnham and Cottage Grove.
He rented the building to Thomas Arnott (1847-1940) as a furniture and upholstery shop. Arnott was well known for fine work in repairing old furniture. An old advertisement read; "Thomas Arnott, the leading furniture man of Lowell, Ind. We have one of the best equipped upholstering and picture frame departments in Northern Indians."
At one time his shop was on Clark St. near Commercial, in the building now occupied by the Bike Barn. His delivery truck was one of the few "Lowell" trucks which was assembled in Lowell where Dante's Restaurant is now located. [Note from 2001: This place is now Zuni's.]
He and his wife Mary lived at 323 N. Burnham St. for a time, and later moved into their new home on South Liberty St., where he continued to do upholstering after his formal 'retirement.'
Still in the 1920's, Edward Yates and his wife Alice (Walsh) were owners of the building, and operated the furniture store for several years until a decision was made to open a theater. Lowell had been without a movie house for several years after the closing of the Grand on Clark St.
In about 1930, the building was converted for this new enterprise by adding about forty feet to the south end, slanting the floor, and adding other improvements and decorating. A canopy or marquee was added to the front, and the sign "Ritz" was installed in lights.
In 1934, the building was rented to Kurt Laemmle, nephew of movie producer Carl Laemmle of Hollywood. Well remembered are 'Cash Nights' and 'Bank Nights,' Westerns on Saturday nights, and the serials shown in the afternoons. The Old Timer remembers when, as an usher there, he found a sleeping baby all alone in the front row of seats after the show. The frantic young parents soon came running when they realized their loss!
In about 1943, the business was sold and the building was again rented as a theater by Patrick and Loretta Byrnes, who also operated under the name of the 'Ritz'. In 1952, their new building was constructed on Mill St. and the theater was given the name 'Palo,' taken from Pat and Loretta.
History was repeated when the older building was again remodeled, the slanted floor raised, and the structure once more became a furniture store. John and Katherine Esser and Emery and Edith Sautter were partners in the firm, specializing in fine furniture and upholstering. They purchased the building in 1954, and were in business there until the early 1960's.
Gordon Fitzgerald purchased the well-established West Side Hardware from Goodwin and Johnson in 1955, and when the business was moved downtown to the theater building in 1963. the name of the firm was changed to Midtown Hardware. West Side Hardware, founded by George Berg, had been in business since the early part of this century , and more stories about it will be told later. William Dahl came to work for Fitzerald in 1967, purchased the business in 1976, and is the present  proprietor.
The building just to the east of the hardware store, now the home of Lowell Clinic, was built on land once owned by the Gerrish estate. Emil Ruge and Carl Gragg, well-known Lowell businessmen, constructed the building in 1930. The partners used the front office for their loan company for a few years, and rented the rear offices.
In 1937, the building was purchased by Dr. Neal Davis, who was well-known in Lowell for seventeen years. Dr. Loyal W. Combs of a prominent Lowell family was also the owner of the offices for a few years. He was followed by Dr. Robert Smith, Dr. David Templin, Dr. Randall Hile and Dr. Sampanta Boonjaren.
The old timer would like to share a quote sent to him by a good friend: "It is well for every form of organized society, from the family to the nation, to pause occasionally and devote itself to a review of the past, recalling whatever of persons and events may be worthy of recollection, and placing on permanent record so much of the gathered results as ought to be preserved." By Dr. Baron Stow, printed as a foreword in a 1900 book written by Rev. Timothy Ball.
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