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: 217 W. Main
Date Built: 1882
Owner: Freeman S. Jones
Builder: B. G. Wilson
1st business: Howard & Pease Clothing
Freeman Jones, the owner of the Franklin House when it burned in 1882, contracted B. G. Wilson to build this building, the first to be constructed after the fire. It was divided into two storefronts, this being the east half.
Howard and Pease opened a clothing store here in 1883, leaving in 1888. J. L. Hudson, who had recently opened his business next door, decided to utilize both storefronts. He cut an archway between the two. Hudson’s was here from 1888-1892. This building was then occupied by the Coons family for the next 90 years.
A.L. Coons (1892-1935) and his son, Harvey, then 22, opened a men’s clothing store in spite of their inexperience in the business and the fact that there were already six other such stores on Main Street. Another son Frank came into the business about 1920, the year of his father’s death. The store was known as F.F. Coons (1935-1946). Frank’s son, David, joined the firm in 1946 after serving in WWII. David owned and operated the store after his father was incapacitated by a stroke in 1954 until he closed the store in 1974. The store was simply called “Coons” after David took over.
A. L. Coons and his wife bought the building from Mrs. G. W. Parker in 1919. You can still see the name G. W. Parker painted on the back of 207 W. Main. Parker had a farm just west of Lowell and lived on Hudson St. He raised, bought and sold horses. Perhaps he had an office upstairs in this building. David’s grandmother, Mrs. Elizabeth Coons, lived upstairs after she was widowed in 1920 until she could no longer do the 22 steps up.
In 1934, the Wolverine Shoe company did a shoe promotion. They froze a work shoe in a huge block of ice. The sign read, “Free! A pair of genuine Wolverine Shell Horsehide Shoes to the person guessing nearest to the time required for this cake of ice to melt.” Mr. Coons said, “It proved to be a good sales stimulator as well as a great publicity stunt.”
Lowell Savings and Loan (1928-1983) operated simultaneously with Coons. It was organized in 1888 to give loans for homes. Originally, it was called Building and Loan because the business strictly gave loans for homes and held savings accounts. When Harvey Coons became Secretary in 1928, it was moved into the Coons’ Store from Harry Shuter’s Shoe Store. Frank Coons was the next Secretary and David Coons followed, 1954 – 1983. Other businesses at this location after David Coons were: State Farm Insurance – Roger Chapman, First Savings of Saginaw, The Federal Savings and Loan, Great Lakes Bancorp and currently the Red Barn Consignments and Antiques since 2017.
Here’s what the David Coons Men’s Clothing Store looked like in 1968:
And here’s the building now: