. . . the "Opera House"? -- One of Lowell's largest business buildings, built in 1894 on the northeast corner of Mill Street and Commercial Ave., was the site of many business ventures, including a department store, tavern, bakery, bowling alley and more on the lower level. There was an apartment in the west side of the upper floor. Wide steps led upstairs to the living quarters and to the large Opera House hall to the east. The building survived the great fire of 1898, but was destroyed by flames in 1976, the night of the Fireman's Ball at the Legion Hall.
. . . the first Lowell Railroad Station? -- Of frame construction, with an office, passenger waiting room and freight area, it was built circa 1881. This writer saw it being demolished by train cars during a wreck on a rainy night in 1952, the year of Lowell's Centennial. It was replaced later by the present masonry building.
. . . the Grand Theatre? -- An old postcard shows it under construction in 1910. The 800-seat show house, with a large balcony and box seats, was built on the southeast corner of Clark and Jefferson Streets in Lowell; it featured exciting silent movies during the early years with the newer "talkies" shown later. The building, also used for graduations and stage plays, had a short life, for it was taken down in 1935, with the material used for a Lake County highway garage on Harding Drive, now a part of the Rieter Corporation complex.
. . . the "Main Garage"? -- So called for several decades, it was the site of several auto dealerships, garages, a roller rink, beauty shop, as well as the offices of the Tri-Creek School Corporation . The school office was there in 1974 when a tornado destroyed the south part of the building. Other business ventures there included a catalog store, antique shop, gun shop, record store, and a tavern. A north section was demolished later, and a recent sign advertises the grand opening of a tavern and pizza place in the masonry building along Cedar Creek.
. . . John Miller's Blacksmith Shop? -- He established his shop at the southeast corner of Commercial Avenue and Parkview Street in the early 1900's and soon sold Studebaker farm wagons, then Studebaker automobiles, and later Fords. Several auto dealerships followed; then the brick building became the "Carriage House Restaurant." More eating establishments followed and the 1915 hardware building to the east was added for more room. Currently the building is being remodeled by a new restaurant owner.
. . . the Cedar Valley Creamery? -- The first frame building was erected in 1890, followed by a newer and larger one of brick and concrete construction in 1915. Butter and ice cream were made there for decades and milk was shipped by train to cities to the north. The original frame creamery building was gone long ago, though the masonry part still stands at the west section of Post 101 American Legion building in Lowell.
. . . the Alyea Hotel ? -- The old hotel, with a livery stable nearby, was built about 1881 at the southeast corner of Mill Street and Jefferson Street and burned down sometime after 1911. In the 1920's pilings were still visible on that corner, later the site of a filling station, a dairy store-restaurant, and now the home of an auto parts store.
. . . the Old North Swimming Hole? -- The site can still be seen from the Cedar Creek bridge on Main Street, where years gone by the water rushing over the old dam widened and deepened the stream below. Many generations of youths of our community learned to swim there. Remember?
. . . the Kelsey Livery Stable? -- In 1898 Merritt W. Kelsey was operating a livery stable that was on tall poles over Cedar Creek on the south side of Commercial Avenue. He soon made plans to build his new stable, which was completed in 1906 on the north side of Commercial Ave., a 38' X 80' brick building costing $5400 and equipped with a large elevator for moving horses and carriages from one level to another. Now, 100 years later, his sturdy building still stands as the west section of the Superior Furniture store at 205 E. Commercial Ave.
. . . Wilbur Lumber Company? -- The Lowell branch of the Wilbur Lumber Co. began in 1898. Fred Buckley was manager until 1902, when Albert "Bart" Moxell began his 50 years as the boss. The company served the community well until it was sold in the 1960's and the buildings were torn down. The large area of concrete across Washington Street from Costas Grocery was the site of the progressive business.
. . . the Beckman Blacksmith Shop ? -- The shop, built during the very early 1900's, straddled Cedar Creek a few feet west of the old Halsted Street bridge at the corner of Halsted and Washington Streets. The Halsted bridge, the blacksmith shop and the big bend in the creek all disappeared in 1955-56 at the time the course was changed and a new bridge built, the same bridge being replaced this year of 2006!
. . . the 1870 Methodist Church? -- The red brick church, built in 1870 at the northwest corner of Main and Burnham Streets in Lowell, was the home of the Methodist congregation until 1924, when a new church was erected on Commercial Ave. The building was then sold to the Lutheran Church and it was later sold to the Assembly of God Church. Later the structure was demolished, but relics still linger, including hundreds of the old bricks used for an sturdy addition to a vintage home on South Viant Street, many bricks used in the restoration of the Melvin Halsted House, and a hanging oil lamp that is on display at the Halsted House Museum at the northeast corner of Halsted and Main Streets in Lowell.
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