The Lowell Area Historical Museum is taking us on a stroll along Main Street and sharing the history of buildings in Lowell’s historic downtown. To learn more about Lowell history, visit the museum website to explore its collection of local artifacts and records.
Address: 207 W. Main
Date Built: 1883
Owner when built: Morgan Lyon
1st business: Charles J. Church & Son Bankers
The Franklin Hotel, built here by pioneer Cyprian Hooker in 1855, burned in 1882. Morgan Lyon, a farmer from Vergennes Township, then purchased the eastern portion of the block in the name of Califernia Edmonds, his niece, and built the Lyon building. The Lyon building consists of four storefronts; this is the easternmost.
Chas. J. Church & Son Bankers operated a bank here from 1888 to 1896. The bank failed in 1896 due to the economy but young Mr. Church could not pay the money back to his patrons. He felt so guilty that he committed suicide. In 1902, according to the Lowell Ledger, all of the unsecured creditors were paid 57 percent with the interest and money earned from selling the bank’s assets which included a small power-producing dam near Lowell.
Next it was the shoe stores of: D. F. Butts, Shoes (1900-1905), Phin Smith, Shoes (1905-1909), and Art Hill Shoes at the “Corner Shoe Store” (1909-1917).
Although difficult to see, the easternmost store was Phin Smith Shoes when the photo above was taken c. 1908. Don Smith, the youngest businessman in town, managed the store for his father, Phin, of Hastings. They catered to Swiss immigrants, “We speak German here.” Doctor Anderson had a dental office upstairs. Horses and buggies were parked on the side street.
In 1917, Art Hill changed places of business with the City State Bank to accommodate the bank. The building was renovated for the Bank and Lowell’s first public restroom was added in the basement, accessible by an outside stairway. A public drinking fountain was also installed outside. A banking holiday was declared in 1933, closing all banks due to the depression. To reopen in 1934, the City State Bank and the Lowell State Bank were instructed to merge as the State Savings Bank and to use the building which was formerly the Lowell State Bank.
Since then the building has housed dental offices: Dr. H. P. Gotfredsen upstairs (1923), Dr. Douglas Oatley, DDS (1932-1955); Dr. Robert Reagan, DDS (1955-1993); and Dr. James Reagan, DDS, since 1984. The Methodist Church “Rummage Bin” store was in the basement from 1965 to 1985.
And here’s what 207 W. Main Street looks like today: