The front page of the Tribune on Jan. 18, 2000, featured a photo and caption about the tavern building downtown near Cedar Creek as it was being partially demolished in preparation for remodeling. Here are the answers to some questions which may have been prompted by that item.
The original building, 115 feet in length, was built in 1912 by two Lowell businessmen, George Hoevet, general merchandise, and Bernard T. Beckman, blacksmith. Hoevet's business was to the west of the present travel shop in downtown Lowell, while Beckman's shop straddled the creek at the corner of Halsted and Washington Streets.
Soon after it was built, the building was host to a presidential rally for Theodore Roosevelt, followed by a flag-waving torchlight parade involving many horse-drawn vehicles and marchers.
The first business housed there was the Hoevet Buick sales and service, until it was sold to Merritt Hayden and sons Clark and Milford, who retained the Buick agency. Phelps Hull also was a dealer there, Cecil Waters, a chief mechanic who was hard of hearing, often held a stick between his teeth, then touched the engine to "listen" to it run.
The Felder brothers, Arthur and Clifford, came from Kewanna in 1925 and went into business in the 1912 building, selling and repairing Buicks and Chevrolets until the early 1930's, when they moved the agency across the street. (A new Chevrolet roadster could be purchased for $495 at that time.)
After the Felder brothers moved, the south side Commercial Avenue garage building was sold to James Brannock, local contractor and road builder. Oldsmobiles and Hudsons were sold by his son, Kenneth Brannock, until that business also moved across Commercial Avenue, next to Felder's, in a building demolished decades ago.
For a few years before World War II, the big garage building was converted into a roller skating rink by the Evans Company, which also operated a tent rink at Cedar Lake. The rink sponsored a roller hockey league as well as the Crystal Rollers Skating Club, which often traveled to other rinks in the area.
After the rink was removed, the building was used for storage until 1943, when Clarence Berdine bought it and moved his Chevrolet agency there from the north side of Commercial Avenue.; Soon after his move, a fire destroyed the front part of the dealership, as well as a beauty shop in the east section, and the building was purchased by Alvah Pletcher.
In 1943 Robert Cullen, with his son, Robert, began a Chevrolet agency in the 1912 building. Cullen, a veteran of World War I, was president of the Lowell Centennial Committee in 1952. He sold the agency in 1958 to Harrison Snell, who was in business there until 1965, when his new auto sales conplex was completed on West Commercial Avenue.
The old building by the creek was again remodeled for the Tri-Creek School Corporation Offices. In 1974 the school board and the administrative staff were inside the building when a tornado demolished the south part of the structure. Luckily, no one was injured.
Remodeled several times, the victim of a fire, a tornado, and high water from the stream to the west whose course was very close in earlier times, the 1912 "Main Garage" building also housed a taxi stand, tire shop, record store, clothing shop, dry cleaners, sport and gun shop, trophy shop, and tavern. It was also used as party headquarters for a presidential election. The newly remodeled building will soon house another business venture. [Note from year 2002: The building is still empty.]
A circa 1880 frame building which once stood on the same site was demolished when the 1912 garage building was erected. The first business there is unknown, but from 1900 to 1911, it was the home of a wagon and implement shop owned by Jerry C. Kenney, who also kept milk cows there.
A building to the west was built on tall pilings directly over Cedar Creek, with a big doorway opening onto the old wooden bridge. For decades the frame structure housed a livery stable, where horses and rigs could be rented. Young men of the area often asked to rent a horse that could find its way home from a dance or other events, relieving them of that responsibility after a night of revelry. Two of the livery owners were Merritt Kelsey and John Zartman.
West of the livery on the west bank of the creek once stood a small building which housed an insurance and real estate office and a barber shop.
A large hotel-tavern building, circa 1880, which once stood in front of the American Legion building, was home to the Ceiga Hotel, the Peter Seramur hotel, Berlini's Ice Cream, Will Tanner's billiards, John Hepp's tavern and the Kepshire Tavern. It was demolished in 1963.
Two old frame buildings stood to the east of the garage building for decades, the first built about the time the railroad came in the 1880's, with hotel rooms above and many business ventures on the lower level, including the Crown Tavern, Kimmet's Department Store, Billy Brown's Bazaar, a bowling alley (duck pins) and a pool hall. The other frame building, demolished long ago, was owned in early years by Abram Callner and housed a hat shop, the Viant Restaurant, and the A.B. Hayhurst coffee shop.
At least seven buildings have been demolished in that area on the south side of Commercial Avenue.
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