In 1985 the old Livery Stable on Washington St. in Lowell was destroyed by fire. Most recently, the building was the site of many interesting and unique shops featuring crafts, antiques, art and snack shops. But it truly served as a livery stable at one time, built about 1890 on the old railroad siding just north of Washington St.
In 1902 Emory Hathaway advertised his livery business in the Lowell Souvenir, a small tabloid newspaper published by E.E. Woodcock. Emory also farmed nearly 100 acres on what is now Holtz Road near Redwing Lake.
During the years leading up to 1919, Frank Plummer (1858-1932) was the proprietor of an implement shop in the former livery building. Frank was the son of Abiel Plummer (1824-1905) and Kate Baughman Plummer (1832-1919).
His daughter Beulah Plummer Brannon, owner of the stable building for many years, was a high school teacher, college professor, scholar and historian. She married well-known Lowell businessman Amos Brannon in 1942.
The early Plummer family came to West Creek Township in 1852 and later farmed almost a full section of land.
In 1919 Flynn V. Russell came from Williamsport to purchase the Plummer Implement business with a Mr. Hunter as a partner. The company sold products of the McCormick Deering Harvester Co. In a short time, Russell was able to buy out his partner.
Russell's stepdaughter, Hazel Karst, a well-known teacher in area schools, became the wife of Paul Nichols, a member of a Lake County pioneer family.
The following is from a 1933 Lowell Tribune: "The company is a pioneer in its line, tractors, trucks, binders, plows, mowers, gas engines, binder twine, and general farm hardware. Flynn Russell stands in the highest esteem of all."
Harold Sorensen began working for Flynn Russell in 1922, and after Flynn's death in the early 1940's, Sorensen purchased the business with a partner, Vincent Junglas, whom he bought out in 1947. Dorothy Homfeld began working there as a secretary in 1943 and married Sorensen in 1944.
A quote from the Monon Railroad's publication Rail and Tie, March 1948: "Mr. Harold Sorensen ably assisted by Mrs. Sorensen, handles the agency for the International Harvester Co. Mr. and Mrs. Sorensen will go far in the business world."
In 1949 the business was moved into their new, larger brick building on U.S. 41, west of Lowell. The business was later sold to Robert Davis, and the building is now a Lake County Highway Dept. garage just south of State Rd. 2.
In 1952 Verne Ohlenkamp, the dealer of Oliver Farm machinery in the stable building, advertised "Finest in farm equipment" in the Lowell Centennial publication. For a time, part of the building was used for a tin shop.
In 1970 Robert Hein, a Lowell accountant, remodeled the old livery stable, using old, weathered lumber from houses and barns and staying with the original design when practical. More than 30 separate shops were on the two floors, where shopkeepers wore period costumes. The shops sold antiques, arts, crafts, clocks, books, jewelry, furniture and more.
Joe Bielefeld was the proprietor in 1979, and in 1982 Julie Taylor was in charge. Robert Bridges became the owner of the building in 1984 and did extensive remodeling before the structure was destroyed by fire in 1985.
East of the livery stable building was a triangular-shaped building that housed a coal yard for many years. An old faded photograph, circa 1910, shows a large barn there. It was originally the headquarters of Peter A. McNay (1839-1919), an early Lowell businessman whose wife's name was Laura (1847-1913).
He was a veteran of the Civil War, where he served in the 73rd Indiana Volunteer Infantry. He was also the founder of a teeming business between Lowell and Chicago, and also operated a coal business. His home was on the corner where the Lowell Public Library now stands and he also owned several other homes nearby.
Phillip M. McNay (1865-1936) worked for his father, Peter A., and was also a well-known coal and ice merchant in Lowell for many years at the same location. His express wagon would meet the trains to deliver shipments of goods to shops and homes.
The spirited horses hitched to the express wagon were also the team used to pull the hook-and-ladder truck for the Lowell Vol. Fire Dept. When the fire alarm was sounded, it was a great shock to a new driver to suddenly find himself on the way to the fire station at top speed! Wendell (LaVerne) McNay of Crown Point, nephew of Phillip, recalls that he assisted in delivering ice to nearly every home in Lowell. Wendell's father, Gilbert McNay (1882-1910), brother of Phillip, was a Lowell Post Office clerk, and his mother, Hattie Nichols McNay (1886-1982), was the daughter of Lowell area farmer and businessman, Marshall Nichols. She was well-known as a charter member of the Lowell Women's Club and for other civic activities. Hattie's other son was Marshall Gilbert McNay.
Phillip M. McNay married Mary S. Sargent (1868-1935), and their children were Milford (1893-1976) and Lela (1891-1944), who married Henry E. Windberg (1891-1948).
In 1911 P.M. McNay was operating an ice cream factory in a small building near the ice house at his home at the corner of Clark and Main Streets in Lowell. In the 1920's he tore down the old buildings built by his father on Washington St. and replaced them with a more efficient one to handle coal and coke.
This was in the 1933 Lowell Tribune: "P.M. McNay was one of the pioneer buisiness men and citizens of Lowell who has always been a supporter of every movement of progress in the community. He employs a number of men and trucks. Prompt Deliver."
In the 1930's Arleigh L. LaMotte (1897-1970) purchased the coal business from the McNay family. Arleigh came to Lowell from L'Erable, Ill., in 1928 to start the Lowell Reduction Co. He married Marguerite O'Donnell (d. 1954) of Martinton, Ill., in 1919 after returning from service in the U.S. Signal Corps during World War I. The well-known businessman was a director and president of the Lowell National Bank and was a leader in the area for 42 years. The LaMottes' daughters are Arline Vandermark of Lowell and Cecelia Harkin of Highland. Their small son, Wayne "Buddy" LaMotte, died in 1936 at the age of four.
The coal yard was sold in 1945 to Herb Cunningham of Hammond, who later founded the ready Mix Co., now operated by a son James Cunningham. Herb now lives in Sun City West, Arizona.
When the livery stable next door was remodeled in 1970, the old coal yard was torn down and several small shop buildings were moved in and restored to represent old time emporiums as a part of the livery stable complex. These are still stamding as survivors of the fire of 1985, but not a trace can be seen of the 1880's railroad siding near Washington St.
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