In the early 1920's the Old Timer often walked on the Cedar Creek Bridge on Commercial Ave., and stopped to lean on to the tired old wooden railing as he looked at several tall wooden poles standing in the creek bed on the south side of the bridge, and was trying to guess their former purpose. In later years he was told that a large livery stable once sat on those tall poles, the door of the building opening directly onto the bridge. Not all readers believed his story about a building there, though the following will help to convince possible skeptics: Merrit W. Kelsey, Livery -- There was a time and that not so many years ago either when it was not thought that business buildings would ever reach so far west as the point where Cedar Creek crossed the county road (now Commercial Ave.), and the old frame bridge gave way to the march of improvement and the present (1901) substantial stone bridge structure was placed there. The property on the creek flat between the old business houses and the depot became too valuable to be idle, and one of the buildings erected thereon was the present livery, feed and sale stable now occupied by Mr. Kelsey. His barn is large and in a splendid location. For many years later the stumps of those long poles could be seen in the creek bed.
The writer, who worked in the hardware industry for many decades, found a great interest in the Souvenir's stories about three hardware stores when Lowell had a population of about 1000 in 1901. The Lucian A. Brannon Hardware store was in the west room of the Opera House building at the northeast corner of Commercial Ave. and Mill St. (Later was Fry's.) Burnham Brothers Hardware was on the south side of Commercial, east of the present Methodist Church Resale Shop. In 1918 the store was sold to Fred W. Schmal, who sold out and retired in 1934. John Berg's Hardware at 140 West Commercial, was next to Peter Schmal's Wayside Inn. John Nashwander was the previous owner. The store (still standing), at 140 West Commmercial Ave., called the "West Side Hardware," was sold to Berg's nephew, George Berg, who moved the business to a new brick building across the street in 1915. (George Berg moved to California in 1922.) In later years the business was sold and moved to downtown Lowell; the name changed to Midtown Hardware. The 1915 building is now the east room of Mi Ranchito restaurant.
Nicholas Berg, Blacksmithing: On the west side just west of the Red Front store will be found the subject of this sketch always at work in the shop. Mr. Berg has a wide acquaintance among the farmers who come for miles to get him to do their work that falls in his line. From his long stay in one place we know that his business is prospering and we wish him continued prosperity. Berg's frame building burned in 1913 and the brick hardware building was built in 1915 by his son George. (Nicholas Berg was this writer's grandfather; John Berg was his great-uncle; Peter Schmal ,George Berg and Henry Heiser were his uncles; and Fred W. Schmal was his father.)
Peter Schmal Hotel: You need look no farther for a better table than at this popular hostelry, for it cannot be found. Such is the reputation this hotel has gained while under the proprietorship of Mr. Schmal. The sample room in connection is strictly a quiet modern retreat." The circa 1860 hotel, still standing at 132 West Commercial (south of Costas Market) was used as a school (private?) for a few years, was purchased by Pioneer Jabez Clark who rented to David Stringer then to William Nichols. During the Civil War it was called the "Union House." It was operated by George Mee for some years, then purchased by Peter Schmal who sold the business in 1903 to his brother Fred W. Schmal, who was the owner until 1916 when he sold to Henry Heiser, his brother-in-law. It was the "Heiser Hotel" for many decades, later known as the "Commercial Hotel," and was sold several more times.
"Joseph Dahlke Hotel: In a splendid location is this hotel and saloon between the business district and the depot. Here is to be found plenty of room for as many guests as apply, and the choice of refreshments for the inner man. This hotel-saloon building, which was also known as John Hepp's Tavern, stood for decades just east of the Lowell Depot on land that is now pretty Legion Park.
At the Lowell Town Board meeting of March 4, 1901, the following bills were presented for payment: P.M. McNay, coal and drayage, $89.49; G.M. Death, hardware. $10.89; Peter Stanley, corn cobs, $1.25; C.O. Hill, telephone rent, $6.00; Standard Oil Co, Oil, $9.52; Dan Lynch, Postmaster, box rent. 35 cents; Jas. Garrison, salary, $25.00; M. E. Natus, marshal salary, $23.00; S.F. Pletcher, salary, $50.00. It was taken by consent that the stand pipe should not be used for bill board purposes. (The stand pipe was a 100-foot tall water tower on the town square.) A motion for installing a street light at the corner of Main and Fremont Streets (present site of Lowell Town Hall) was lost for lack of a second. The Lowell Volunteer Fire Department asked for permission to erect an apparatus for draining fire hoses at the bell tower or at the stand pipe. Clark Brothers Brickyard asked and received permission to lay a small pipe on Liberty Street from the water works to their plant at their expense. Their brickyard once stood north of Main Street at the end of Liberty Street.
Cedar Lake News, March 1901: Fire at Cedar Lake: The Knickerbocker Ice Co's extensive plant at the south end of Cedar Lake, with the exception of the engine, engine house and chutes, was destroyed by fire on Monday night. Trains were delayed for some time, the ruins continuing to burn and smolder away for hours afterward. The western portion of the burned building was built about 20 years ago by the Anderson-Freeman Ice Company, it being the first ice house erected at the lake.
More advertisements from the 1901 newspapers:
The Red Front" Store -- Ruge Brothers -- William E. Ruge & Herman Ruge -- Dry Goods, Gent's Furnishings, Boots and Shoes -- Groceries, Produce and Cured Meats -- Latest Designs in Wall Paper -- Odds and Ends, 2 cents per single roll. This store, at 135 West Commercial Ave., was in the building across the street from the old hotel. A 1915 colorful china plate picturing the 1914 Panama Canal, given in a special promotion by the store, is displayed on the old pump organ at the Halsted House Museum on the corner of Main and Halsted Streets in Lowell. The museum is open from 11 am to 3 pm the first Saturday of every month or by special appointment.
The Wilbur Lumber Company, Furnish House and Barn -- from basement to Cupola -- Phone 72 -- A.T. Cox, Manager. Soon after, Mr. Bart Moxell was the well-known manager there for many decades. The lumber company stood across the street from the present Costa's Market on Washington Street.
H.J. Stowell & Son Restaurant -- Square Meals From Our Home Kitchen -- Confectionery and Cigars -- Oysters, Fruits, Ice Cream and Soda in season. Home Baking a Specialty. Location not known.
B. F. White & Son, Wholesale and Retail Bakery -- Fresh Baked Bread and Pastry, Fruits and Confectionery. -- Also Agents for Singer Sewing Machines.
George H. Baker, City Meat Market -- Fresh and Salt Meats -- Oysters in season, fresh from the bay. Fresh Fish in season direct from Lake and Stream. Your choice of Young Poultry.
Spindler & Pletcher's -- Our grocery department is full to overflowing of deep cut prices and if prices and quality are any object you will surely take the advantages offered. In our Dry Goods department we sell the best Calico that is shown in our town at 4 cents per yard and up. Best Percale from 6 cents and up. Unbleached muslin 5 cents per yard and up. We show the finest and best line of silks for trimming and waists. Full line of Corsets, French form-girdles and high bust corsets at prices from 25 to 95 cents. Yours to Please. This store was in the lower east section of the Opera House building that stood on the northeast corner of Commercial Ave. and Mill Street until it was demolished by flames in 1976.
A quote from publisher Schuyler Colfax Dwyer: "Our progressive citizens are the builders of the home paper, the newspaper itself is just the structure composed of the material you contribute, the editor simply fashions it. Then let us all together fashion a massive lasting monument at Lowell in the interests of Southern Lake County, to which all will point with pride and say 'This is a tablet of what we are doing'." The Lowell Indiana Souvenir, A Weekly Journal of High Class Literature, was popular for only a few years of the early 1900's. Copies of the paper are available for viewing at the Lowell Public Library.
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