Last month's historical tour of Lowell (Part Two: Main Street and Beyond) ended at the recently renamed "Olde Towne Square," land donated by 1837 pioneer Jabez Clark.
The tour continues now at the Lowell Chamber of Commerce building, which is on land also donated by Dr. Clark. Erected in 1922, the brick building was built by the Town of Lowell as a Town Hall. For decades it held the offices of the town, the police and fire departments, a jail, and a community room upstairs. As the town grew, the building became too small, served as only the police station for a time, and finally underwent extensive renovations by the Chamber.
To the west of the Chamber building stands a nicely restored structure built in 1891 as Lowell's first bank, with rooms above occupied by doctors and dentists. The bank moved to the building at the corner of Wall Street and Commercial Avenue in 1900 (now a restaurant and antique shop. This original bank building now houses a travel agency. [Note from year 2002: it is now an antique shop.]
The next business west in the early days was one of Lowell's largest stores. The department store was operated by several firms, including Hoevet and Ruge, Lynch Bros., the Spindler Company, and Sears and Roebuck. At one time, the store was connected by archways to all the buildings up to the present Methodist Resale Shop.
The building now housing an office supply store once was a drug store, with the Lowell Telephone Company offices upstairs, where a terrible fire took the lives of two young women in 1905. It was a barber shop for a few years, as well as a part of the department store.
The next place west, now a vacuum cleaner sales and service shop, was a hardware store for decades, the owners including Burnham Brothers, Dickinson's, Lynch Brothers, and Fred Schmal, who sold out in 1934. Many businesses have been housed there since, including the Lowell Post Office and the Indiana License Branch.
The present site of the Methodist Church Resale Shop, built in 1892, housed grocery stores, meat markets, egg stores, an express company, and the Pletcher and Spindler Hardware Store.
Now an antique mall, the next place west was the site of a home and a funeral parlor-furniture store, both frame. Founded by Martin Schur in 1872, the business was purchased by early businessman William Sheets in 1905; the funeral home is now a few blocks east, operated by the fourth generation.
Melvin Halsted, founder of Lowell, wrote the following in 1900: "In 1852 the first school was erected. It was 20 by 30 feet and stood near where Hago Carstens' harness shop is now ." The shop was a very old frame building with a balcony over the front entrance, where a brick building now stands, until recently the site of a computer store. Among the many businesses there, was a meat market and a grocery. The early brick school was used until the 1860's.
The east section of the present Davis Store housed many stores through the years, including an auto repair shop, a car dealership, the license bureau and the Red Devil Restaurant.
Elizabeth Davis established the Davis Store in 1884 in a frame building. It housed her millinery. (Note from the year 2002: The first store was located across the street from where the store is now.) Although it burned down in the fire of 1898 the business continued elsewhere. Now a dress and accessory shop, the Davis Store is owned by the fourth generation of the family. It received a Century Business Award just this year for 115 years of ownership by the same family. From 1918 to 1920 two of the upstairs rooms were used as Lowell's first library.
The building west of the dress shop, now housing an antique shop, was a jewelry store for decades and also one of the local taverns for many years. The 1890 building next door, now an insurance office, was a general store (Castle's), Berg's Men's Store, a butcher shop, National Tea store, Cardinal grocery and a shoe store.
Next door west is remembered as one of Lowell's oldest barber shops (where Babe Tanner held court for decades). The small office area behind the shop was used by lawyers, township trustees, and insurance brokers. It is now a part of the beauty shop to the west, once the site of the Weakly jewelry shop.
West of the little alley that was used by horse and buggies stands the limestone-fronted bank building, built in 1903 by the Lowell National Bank. The frame building which once stood there housed several different businesses: a grocery, a restaurant, a hardware, an art gallery and a dance hall.
A few years after the bank moved in 1958, the brick and limestone building housed a savings and loan company, and later the license bureau, and then a pet shop. It is now the site of an antique and gift shop and has been restored very close to the way it looked when built in 1903.
An old frame building once stood west of the bank building, the home of a tailor shop. The present building on the site housed a camera and music shop, an ice cream parlor, and a doctor's office through the years. The business there now is a jewelry store, which had its start in 1928 and is now operated by the third generation of the Sickinger family.
For several decades the next building to the west was occupied by a drug store; some of the owners were Hunt, Hunter, Roberts and Fagan. In more recent years, the space was used as a photography studio and township assessor's office. [Note from year 2002: It is now a restaurant.]
The next building, now an art gallery, was built in 1903 by George Heilig, who came to Lowell from Remington in 1897. He ran a combination bakery, ice cream and cigar store.
Glenn Bolt began a meat market there in 1932, purchased the building in 1935, added groceries in 1936, and sold the building when he opened his new supermarket on Washington Street in 1950, now the home of a still larger store, Costas Foods.
A vacant lot was the sight that the Old Timer remembers in the 1920's -- now the site of a medical clinic, circa 1930. The building has been used for offices of different types through the years.
An odd fact about the stores in downtown Lowell: If the doorway once stood in the center of the building, it is now on the side. If once on the side, it is now in the middle of many of the buildings.
Our next tour will continue with the present hardware building, which was also a theatre.
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