Along Main Street: 411 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: 411 E. Main (formerly 401 and 403 E. Main)
Date Built: c. 1867
Built by: Frank T. King and Joseph Amphlett; remodeled by J. C. Hare & M. C. Barber (1883)
1st business: Joseph Amphlett’s Carriage and Wagon Works

The building was built between 1866 and 1869 by Frank T. King and Joseph Amphlett. In 1870, Amphlett was using it as a carriage and wagon works factory. In 1876, M. C. Barber had his grocery here. From 1880-1882, Delos G. Henry, Carriage Painter, advertised that he was working here. J. C. Hare purchased the west-half for Lowell Marble Works in 1881. In July 1883, M. C. Barber was making preparations to dry fruit during harvest and was fitting the east-half of the building up for that purpose.

By 1883, it must have fallen into disrepair because the east side residents wanted to fix it up. They collected $1200 to be given to the owners J. C. Hare and M. C. Barber to put the building into shape. The “Davis House” hotel opened on June 1, 1884.

The image above shows the Davis House as it appears on the 1885 Sanborn map shortly after the building was made into a hotel. The kitchen at the rear was one story. The Dining Room and Office was on the west half of the 1st floor while sleeping rooms were on the 2nd and 3rd floors.

Loren W. Davis from Muir was hired to be the new landlord hotel man and operated it until 1895. Then with a succession of owners, it was called Brace Hotel (1899), Lowell House (1903), and Hotel Lowell (1910). The hotel prospered as long as the railroad depot was a block away on South Washington St, but when the depot was moved to the west side of town in 1900, patronship dwindled and the hotel eventually closed.

The image above shows the building with the name “Lowell House.” From 1884 to about 1910, this building served as a hotel. William Christiansen removed the third floor rather than fix the roof after he purchased it in 1936.

In 1929, E.C. Foreman used the building for a poultry hatching facility; in 1930, John Heyboer sold eggs from here; and in 1931 it was Beigle’s Motor Sales. New life was infused when, in 1936, William Christiansen bought the building and installed an ice cream and paddlepop manufactory. The building was once three stories tall but rather than fix the roof, Christiansen decided to remove the third floor. (His remodelers noted square cut iron nails and the absence of modern metal bracing in the building.) A neat store was made at the front with new walls, new counters and plate glass in place of smaller windows. All of Chris’s ice cream was made at this location. This store featured ice cream cones and package sales –his downtown location remained the soda fountain. From 1939 until the War years, he had a dairy bar here also. Later, he also had a meat market and Frozen Food Lockers for people to rent and use like we do our home freezers today.

​In 1954, Christiansen added onto this building with a one-story addition, 413 E. Main and opened Christiansen’s Super Market, Lowell’s first supermarket. Above is Christiansen Ice Cream Company at 411 E. Main St., 1930s-early 40s. Christiansen offered bulk ice cream and meat sales as well as Frozen food Locker rentals, 1940s-50s. The two houses to the east were later removed in subsequent expansions of the building and parking lot.

One of the houses was moved to 220 N. Jefferson. Above is a photo of that house taken in 1893 when it was the Hiram Nash residence.

L. V. Eberhard (left) purchased the contents of Bill Christiansen’s (right) Super Market, Locker and Ice Cream business, July 1, 1957.

In 1957, L. V. Eberhard purchased the Christiansen Super Market, Locker department and ice cream business. (The building was rented to Eberhard.) This became Eberhard’s eleventh location and the first outside of Grand Rapids. In 1968, when Eberhard built a new store on the west side of Lowell, Mac Fonger’s Super Save grocery store opened here. Lippert Pharmacies purchased the building and operated a pharmacy and gift shop here from 1973 until 1984 when it was sold to Rite Aid Pharmacy, 1984-1996. Canfield Plumbing & Heating has owned the building since 2003 and has operated an HVAC and plumbing service business from here with a fleet of blue trucks.

Today the one-story addition is a separate address and has housed Dollar General since 2002.

Here’s what the building looked like at the turn of the 20th Century:

And here’s what 411 E. Main Street looks like now:

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