Priscilla and Perry's

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Jennifer Mital

Mr. Lakes! Mr. Munn

AP English 1 hAP US History

January 2002

Priscilla and Perry’s Furniture Store

As far back as one can remember, businesses have been an essential part of life to cities across the United States and the world alike by providing jobs and satisf~’ing the needs and wants of growing communities. Throughout the 1920s, Marion was a town of job opportunities and recreational activities for the people of the community. Shopping for example, was a major recreational activity as many department stores were situated along the streets of present day downtown. The immaculate three-story building standing at 501 South Washington Street, now standing as Priscilla and Perry’s Furniture Store, became an important part in Marion lives as many important businesses were centralized in this building. The building that has been standing for the past eighty-one years embarks a historical story in which aided in the shaping of Marion as a community.

The building standing at 501 South Washington Street was built in the year 1920 and during this year, Marion was a community in which businesses were growing and changes were being made throughout the city. Along with the many job opportunities becoming available, people began to enjoy the Marion life. The well known Marion park, Matter park, became a popular place during the warm seasons in Marion. People all over Grant County were starting to appreciate the park, as large crowds began to gather at the park everyday during the month of June. On Sundays it was a popular place for families to go picnicking and rest. The park �Mital 2

park equipment being in a good condition and the hot weather, both together made Matter Park a popular spot in Marion (Matter Park is Proven Popular during Hot Days 10). A time when Harry Linn would later be running for recorder, Warren T. McCray for Governor, Wilmer Wilson for treasurer, and Wayne S. Tucker for state representative (Election 10), theater was big throughout Marion and throughout Indiana. Famous actors such as Edgar Lewis, Larry Semon, and Owen Moore, acted in many theatrical plays across Marion and throughout Indiana. Plays such as Other Men’s Shoes and The Fly Cop, were being shown in famous theaters such as the Indiana Theater and Lyric Theater Today (Theater 2). During March of 1920, there was a ballot being passed around to give the citizens of Marion a chance to vote on a whistle proposition for acquiring a water works whistle for fire alarms. Placed on the ballots were the questions, for all alarms, for general alarms only, or against it entirely. Out of fourteen ballots turned into Mayor Hulley, all fourteen were in favor of all alarms (Fourteen Votes for Whistle; None Against 5). Also in March, an act to add Marion to daylight savings time was being processed, but all the county farmers were in opposition of this plan. L.O. Chasey spoke for Farmers Organizations of the county and explained the inconveniences of having daylight savings time. In one instance, he stated that the best haymaking was done the last two and a half hours before sundown and the farmer can not take advantage of that when the clock is set forward. Chasey’s argument then further lead to the Council to reject the plan (Earnest Plea of Count Fanners Causes Council to Reject Plan 1). Then in the beginning of the month of May, Governor Goodrich set a day, May 1, 1920, aside to devote time to the study of American ideals and the study of the constitution. This day was to be observed by everyone throughout the state. Everyone was urged to hang their American flag and they were asked to do something to uplift the nation. Fathers and �Mital 3

mothers were asked to talk with their children to teach them American ideals, and superintendent, A.E. Highley, arranged special programs for the public schools in Marion. Teachers gave talks on Americanism and lower grade children sang patriotic songs and recited national poems (American Day to be Observed in Marion Schools 10; American Day Observed Here 8). Because of Marion’s further growth in businesses, Marion’s population began to grow. In June 1920, Marion was in need of housing and a campaign was being run to raise a needed $83,350. Officials were saying that before factories could be located in Marion, it was a must that more homes should be provided. Businesses were losing many skilled men because of the city not having homes for them. A shortage of homes had handicapped Marion in an unfortunate degree (Marion Will Go Back, In Event of Failure for Housing Plans 5).

The three-story building standing at 501 South Washington Street has been through changes and renovations throughout the past eighty-one years. Throughout the years, five businesses have been centralized in this building. When the building was first built in 1920 (Property Information), it stood as the home of Marion Hardware Company, a typical hardware store in the community. Marion Hardware Company was composed of Marion’s most progressive leading businessmen, the manager, Merrill Lewis, also known as M.L. Lewis and as his accompaniment in the business, J.G. Savire and William H. Charles, also known as W.H. Charles. The store carried an extensive line of all kinds of hardware, paints, oils, window glass, cutlery, and all kinds of materials builders needed. The store carried a large line of the latest and most reliable makes of farm implements, which were proudly on display in the front window of the building. In 1957, the building changed its name and changed its style and became Ball Stores Incorporated, “your friendly store” (Marion’s Progress March), with first manager �Mital 4

Richard Warnick (Ball Stores Incorporated 21). In 1960 the manager then became Thomas Hughes, (Ball Stores Incorporated 25) and again the manager changed in 1965 and became Gene Fear (Ball Stores Incorporated 31). Ball Stores Incorporated was Marion’s leading department store which featured quality merchandise for men, women, and children. Then yet again in 1982, the face of the business industry was changed when this building was bought by Arthur and Montelle Needler of Hartford City, Indiana, and became the furniture store named Needler’s Furniture Store. In 1993, the name of Needler’s had changed and became a Helig-Myers Furniture Store. In 1998, Priscilla Walgram and her partner, Perry Sheridan bought the building to replace it with their furniture store. In 1999 they did remodeling within the building, costing $22,460. In 2001, the building holds Priscilla and Perry’s Furniture Store (Property Information). The store sells carpeting, lighting, hot tubs, gifts, furniture, draperies (Side of Building), and other decorative elements for home apparel.

Merrifi, M.L., Lewis was the manager of Marion Hardware Company, making him the first manager ever to be in the building standing at 501 South Washington Street. M.L. Lewis was also known and recognized to be one of Marion’s most progressive leading business men. Lewis was born on August 1, 1853, in Genesse Count)ç New York (Calton 35). Lewis first became interested in the hardware trade in Lansing, where he bad spent most of his early life. Lewis married a Julia Breckenridge on Christmas Day in 1873. After he and his wife lived in Lansing, Michigan and Indianapolis, Indiana, they moved to Marion, Indiana in 1886. Lewis had been a traveling hardware salesmen through Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan, and Marion had been a center point to where he had to travel. By living in Marion he could return home more often. Mr. and Mrs. Lewis had three daughters, Gennie, Iva, and Marjorie. Then on October 5, 1896, �Mital 5

Lewis’ wife died, and he remarried again to a Mary Roehm and then had another daughter, Florence. For fourteen years, Lewis traveled over the three states to sell hardware and he became quite skilled in hardware. Lewis was first interested in Campbell and Ludlum Hardware Store until he later organized Marion Hardware. Marion Hardware had excellent patronage from Marion factories, building contractors, and farmers. No business had better patronage or a better workforce than Marion Hardware. Lewis was said to be the the “booster” of the community, that no one had the good of the community more at heart than him. He was always with the advanced movements in the community and whenever a subsidy needed to be raised, he was ready to take in funds. He also worked to equip the Marion Normal Institute, which later included Lewis on the board of directors. The Marion Normal Institute was made to establish and maintain and educational institution in Marion. It was to advance business and collegiate education on broad and practical lines (Whitson 976-977). Lewis also was the President of the Commercial Club and was the president of the Chamber of Commerce (Calton 35). Mr. Lewis was a very caring man who greatly contributed to the community in Marion. He attended First Methodist church every Sunday and was extremely kind to strangers and visitors, he always managed to find them a seat. He was also a very smart businessman who thoroughly knew the hardware trade and whom was surrounded with a competent workforce. Marion Hardware was a common necessity in the community (Whitson 976-977), just as other businesses throughout Marion were.

In the past eighty-one years, the building now standing as Priscilla and Perry’s Furniture Store has gone through many changes and was the home to five different businesses within the Marion community. The time period in which the building was built shows a great deal about �Mital 6

the society in Marion in the 1 920s. Merrill Lewis also had a great impression on the people in the Marion community. The building holds many stories of the past and by doing so puts truth to Priscilla Waigram’s quote on the side of the building, “so much more than a furniture store”. �Mital 7

Works Cited

“American Day to be Observed in Marion Schools.” Marion Leader-Tribune 28 April 1920: 10.

“American Day Observed Here.” Marion Leader-Tribune 1 May 1920: 8.

Ball Stores Incorporated. City Directory, 1957. 21.

Ball Stores Incorporated. City Directory, 1960. 25.

Ball Stores Incorporated. City Directory, 1965. 31.

Calton, Pierce. Grant County and Who’s Who. Chicago: The Special Company, 1909.

“Earnest Plea of County Farmers Causes Council to Reject Plan.” Marion Leader-Tribune 3 March 1920: 1+.

Election. Advertisement. Marion Leader-Tribune. 2 May 1920: 10.

“Fourteen Votes for Whistle; None Against.” Marion Leader-Tribune 2 March 1920: 5

“Matter Park is Proving Popular During Hot Days.” Marion Leader-Tribune 9 June 1920: 10.

Marion’s Progress March. Advertisement. Marion Chronicle. 27 Feb. 1966.

“Marion Will Go Back, In Event of Failure for Housing Plans.” Marion Leader-Tribune 24 June 1920: 5.

Property Information. 501 South Washington Street. Marion

Side of Building. 501 South Washington Street. Marion.

Theater. Advertisement. Marion Leader-Tribune. 27 May 1920: 2.

Whitson, Rolland Lewis, ed. Centennial History of Grant County. Indiana. 2 vols. Chicago:

Lewis, 1914.