Along Main Street: 213 E. Main Street

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: 213 E. Main
Built: 1879
Builder/Owner: Robert W. Graham
Building name: White Front Store
1st business: Collar & Weekes Dry Goods

Robert W. Graham moved an old wooden building away from this site in 1879 so he could build a new brick one. It was built to match the building to the east which Graham had built 10 years previously and originally also had three floors. The third floor of this address was home to the G. T. Hall (Lowell Lodge No. 79 I. O. of G. J.), 1879 to 1900. The 2nd floor held apartments.

The White Front Store stands out in this photo. The building name was due to its white painted front.

The first business was Collar and Weekes Dry goods, 1880-1884. They then moved into the new Lyon Block on the west side of town and Marks Ruben, Gent’s Furnishings moved here. Ruben advertised his store as the “White Front Store.” Albert D. Oliver, jeweler, was next from 1899 until after the 1905 fire when he moved into the new Negonce Block. This building survived the fire and stopped the eastward movement of the fire because of its height.

It is listed as a clothing store in 1910. In 1918, it was a barbershop and pool hall. In 1929, it was part of a movie theatre that included the store next door to the east, 219 E. Main. The theatre may have been in the basement. In the early 1930s, the 2nd or 3rd floor was used as a gymnasium for boxing.

Tom Speerstra operated the River City Beer Store (Lowell Beer Store) in 1995 when this photo was taken.

Harvey Callier started the Lowell Beer Store sometime between 1929 and 1935. It was purchased and operated by Jack Fonger, 1941 to 1968. In 1968, Gary Laux and George King purchased it. Next it belonged to Tom Speerstra. It has been called the Lowell Beer Store or Lowell Beer and Liquor Store through the years except when Speerstra owned it. He called it River City Beer Store. In 2019, Joel and Diona Oudbier purchased it and renamed it “Showboat Spirits and Fine Wine.” They have renovated the third floor into a charming studio loft apartment which is available for rent.

Here’s what the building looked like in 1961 when Jack Fonger owned it. It is the only remaining three story building in the block.

And here’s what 213 E. Main Street looks like now:

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