Along Main Street: 219 W. 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: 219 W. Main
Date Built: 1883
Owner when built: Freeman S. Jones
Builder: B. G. Wilson
1st business: J. W. Crothers Dry goods

Freeman Jones, who had been the owner of the Franklin House when it burned in 1882, hired B. G. Wilson to build his building, the first to be constructed after the fire. It was divided into two storefronts with a stairway in between. This is the west storefront.

J. W. Crothers ran an ad in 1883 offering Linen Damask towels and tablecloth, silk parasols, ostrich plumes for hats, and jeans for boys wear. G. W. Hatch followed also operating a dry goods store.

In 1870, R. Hudson & Son (Joseph L. Hudson) had a general store in Ionia, Michigan. It failed due to the Panic of 1873. J. L Hudson moved to Detroit in 1877 but remained interested in our area. In 1888, when he heard that the G. W. Hatch store in Lowell was going bankrupt, he bought the goods and hired a manager to operate it. He immediately expanded into the adjoining storefront and had an arch made between 217 W. Main and 219 W. Main so he could utilize both storefronts.

J.L. Hudson department store Grand Opening, 1888, located in the Freeman Jones building on 217 & 219 West Main Street.

E. B. Holland managed the Lowell Store. Hudson closed this store at the end of 1891 because he was incorporating as the J. L. Hudson Company and expanding his business in Detroit. J.L. Hudson Company went on to have the second -largest department store by square footage, after Macy’s and was also one of the largest in sales. It expanded with Hudson stores around the nation. In 2000, Dayton-Hudson Corp. took the name of its most successful operation and became Target Corporation.

From 1892 to 1947, A. W. Weekes & Son (Harold Weekes) operated a dry goods store here. Augustus Weekes had regained his health after retiring from his partnership with E. R. Collar. He was active in the community and served as a State Representative and two terms as State Senator. Cary Stiff purchased the business in 1947 (until 1979) and changed the name to Cary’s Dry Goods. Cary opened the wall between here (219 W. Main) and 221 W. Main and expanded his store into both buildings. His clerks were Sophia Wingeier Gramer and Ms. Bailey.

The traditional holiday decoration at Cary’s was this huge wreath which hung from the ceiling during the 1950s and 1960s.

Later businesses were: West Apparel, White Lace Fashions, Stitchin’ Pretty Fabrics, Pippi’s Playhouse, Dream Pieces, Fire and Water Art, and Flat River Gallery and Framing.

Here’s what 219 W. Main Street looked like then:

And now:

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