By Jolene Hawkins
Do you ever wonder about where some of the buildings and businesses were located in Springville? Well, I am going to give you a history of the Concord Mercantile property, located on Franklin Street.
Originally, Rufus Eaton purchased it in 1810 and a map from 1818 shows a distillery located there. What else has been there? Well, a mill, an ice house, a chicken hatchery and an automobile tire recapping plant. We cannot forget the shoe repair shop, the gift shop, the Lavender Lantern and The Fish Bowl, a pet supply store. Bet you didn’t know all of that was there!
After the flood of 1998, when four feet of water flowed through the building, it was condemned and The Fish Bowl went out of business.
In 2004, the Concord Historical Society purchased the building and Ron Klahn Construction — along with society members who volunteered their time — refurbished it and added a second floor to the building. And the renovation began!
The upstairs provides an office for the Concord Historical Society and curator, as well as storage for the many artifacts and files that they have. The lower floor has been created in the style of a circa 1890 general store, using many of the local artifacts that were donated over the years.
The floor of the general store is rough cut hemlock that was sawn in Sardinia, air dried, planed, edged, sanded, stained provincial and Varathane coated. Each board has been handled a minimum of 11 times by volunteers who were constructing the Mercantile.
There is a handicapped accessible lavatory that has been camouflaged to appear as a turn of the century small town post office, complete with the window, brass grills, scales and letter drops that were salvaged during the 1980 renovation of the Springville Post Office. The hardware for the six hanging lights was also from the post office and the globes on the lights came from a renovation of the project at the 1902 Goddard Memorial Hall (Town Hall) here in Springville. The globes were made at the Corning Glass Company in Corning.
The wall cabinets and shelving were purchased at an auction from a 1900-era store in South Dayton, as were the two end sales counters. The center counter was originally from Simon Bros. store operated by Maurice, Howard and Robert Simon. During the process of joining these counters together, a cash receipt was found inside one of the counters that indicated at one time the counter was used in the Bernard Simon Furnishing & Shoe Store in South Dayton. Later it was determined that Bernard Simon’s father was Carl Simon, who ran a clothing store in Gowanda. Carl and Springville’s own Maurice Simon were brothers!
The desk that is located in the General Store came from the superintendent’s office at the Springville Rural Cemetery, now Maplewood Cemetery. The Springville Presbyterian Church donated the large office safe. You will see a wall phone mounted on the wall, of course — it was manufactured in 1913 and still works. Guests are invited to try the phone, especially younger guests who are not familiar with the rotary dial telephone. Does anyone remember them?
The door on the under-stair storage area was the fourth-floor classroom door of art teacher Porter Mallory and is from the 1906 Academy Street Griffith Institute.
There is an audio-visual display using old postcards of the Springville, Cascade Park area along with historic signs, the history of the Leland House, George Schuster’s New York to Paris race and balconies of homes in Springville. You can watch them in less than seven minutes.
The operational player piano was salvaged from disposal from the Jennie B. Richmond Nursing Home.
The porch was constructed of locally sawn rough cut larch lumber and the porch roof is constructed primarily of recycled lumber from the former Robinson Knife Company here in the town. So as you can see, there is history even in the construction and building of this Mercantile store.
Every Tuesday and Thursday, you can listen to country/bluegrass music from 7 to 9 p.m. while sitting around the pot belly stove. Bring your voice and you can sing along with the group of great people who come and play.
The Concord Mercantile building is part of the historical campus which includes the Pop Warner Museum, the Carriage House, the Heritage Building, the Lucy Bensley Genealogy Research Library (where I do my research for these articles) and one cannot forget the two-hole outhouse, milk house and corn crib.
You can visit every Wednesday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (the Lucy Bensley Center hours are Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.). Guests can arrange a private guided tour for their group or organization by calling 592-0094.