Herald Dispatch, November 24, 1965
Written by: Charles Collett
Submitted by: Robert Kingrey
On the eve of Christmas holidays comes announcement that the largest building in the heart of the business district the past 75 years may be a ghost but with one or two tenants left after the New Year bells ring. Senior citizens remember the many business occupants of the building, the lodges, the lawyers, and the young folks, proud of their town, want to see all the display windows decorated and lit up about the city.
First of all, the impending vacancy recalls an old respected Ironton family name, prominent in the city since 1871, when Frank E. Hayward came to town and engaged in the grocery business on the corner at Third and Center. During his successful years, he and associates organized the Ironton Fire Brick Co., an industry that has meant much to the economy of the community since 1883.
My first memory of the Hayward building dates back to the Gay 90’s. It was at Ball Brothers drug store in that building where I first tasted the cool refreshing summer drink advertised as soda water. Klein’s Soda Shop has now occupied a room in the building the past 60 years. As I recall, as a school kid, it was Hayward & Murdock, wholesale groceries in the corner room, now the Leggett display windows.
The adjoining room on Third was Frank Castner’s china, notion and toy store and the Nixon harness shop with a long hitching rail in the front at the curb for horses. That room is now Klein’s restaurant.
As the business changes took place, it was Hurtz Underselling Store in the corner room in 1904.
H.S. Knox, the first 5 and 10 cent chain store on the city in 1906, which later changed name to F.W. Woolworth until the Leggett store took over. Other first floor businesses included Clay Henry & Son (Walter) Jewelers; J.J. Hasenauer, wallpaper; Murdock Art Store, Von Shoe store, Ted Allyn, Jewelry.
The lodges were, Myrtle Lodge, Knight of Pythias; Modern Woodmen of the World and Independent order of Red Men. Dick Lambert Post, Grand Army of the Republic, met in the third floor drill hall.
On the night of December 6, 1883 when plans were adopted to build the Memorial Hall, 347 veterans attended the meeting causing alarm because of the crowd with no fire escapes on the building and all wood steps inside. That floor then was the National Guard Armory. The military unit was known as the Kirker Rifles. Later, Uniformed Rank, K. of P. drilled in the hall, and the Red Man’s marching band practiced there.
Among young lawyers who started practice with their first office in the building were Hon. John J. Richards, who became U.S. Attorney General; Congressman Tom Jenkins, Homer M. Richards, Sr., W. Dustin Corn, John Yates and Edward Belcher.
The Davidson Business College and the Lawrence Telephone Exchange were a part of the third floor. Dentist’s offices in the building included Dr. Fred W. Brammer, Dr. Harry R. Smith, who was the first Ironton soldier to parade in Paris in 1917. A prominent newspaperman, Col. Robert Walker who took a leading part in all veteran parades, occupied a bachelor apartment in the building.
Win, Place or Show
February 4, 1966
Written by Charles Collett
Submitted by: Robert Kingrey
I hope I am not going back to far when I write about the $600,000 racetrack at Chinnville just across the river from Hanging Rock. No doubt there are at least 5,000 folks who will read this newspaper today, who were there 42 years ago, when a Kentucky Derby winner named Black Gold sent ten thousand people away from the Raceland track broke as a dark horse, named Bob Tail, won and the favorite did not show in the final result.
The new bridge to Russell opened in 1922 and E. B. Adams remembers, after the races, autos were bumper to bumper on the Kentucky highway for a distance of three miles to Second and Adams Street in this city. The new racetrack opened July 10, 1924. After four seasons the track closed in 1928, over $200,000 in debt. The owner was Jack Keene of Louisville. Everybody except those who never made a bet were losers.
The grandstand was just about twice the size as the Tank Memorial Stadium at Beechwood Park. The C&O ran a daily ten-coach train from Huntington. The Ironton Russell Bridge paid a ten per cent dividend while the track lasted.
Col. John Daugherty of the Ventura Hotel of Ashland came over and leased the new hotel Marting, which was crowded with racehorse men. “Old Ben” and other horse touts came to town to sell printed tips and Ironton merchants complained that folks whom they saw at the track betting windows, were not paying their bills. I’m not sure, but I think the Ironton Merchants Credit Bureau organized that year.
It is easy to recall a couple of the horses that were “also rans” in every race until the final week when they ere allowed to become long shots and paid $130 on a $2 ticket. The names were “Miss Murdock” and “Miss America”. I am sure that I could call 50 names and all could tell me a good story about Raceland, but the first I asked on Center Street the other day, Attorney James Waldo, said he to young to remember only hearsay. Phil Sheridan perhaps remembers the odds on Malcomb B. in 1926 Raceland Derby.
Grand Army of the Republic Memorial Hall
The Grand Army of the Republic Memorial Hall, built in 1892, is an historic building located at 401 Railroad Street in Ironton, Ohio. Designed by noted Ohio architect Joseph W. Yost in the Richardsonian Romanesque style of architecture, it was built to serve as a Grand Army of the Republic memorial and the meeting hall of Dick Lambert Post No. 165 of the GAR.
It later served as the meeting hall of the now long-defunct American Legion Post No. 59 as well as the Ironton city hall. After being abandoned by the city, American Legion Post No. 433 undertook the task of restoring the long neglected veteran’s memorial. On September 19, 2012, the building was added to the National Register of Historic Places. On May 28, 2014, demolition of the building began.
Click Here for a YouTube video of the Memorial Hall building in 2010, prior to demolition.
Memorial Hall, designed by Yost and Packard Architectural firm of Columbus, was constructed for $20,000 to honor Civil War veterans. It was dedicated on September 22, 1892 1 to the Grand Army of the Republic, the Women’s Relief Corps, American Expeditionary Forces and the Spanish-American War soldiers. The original deed from 1889 stated that the building could be used only for Union soldiers, their widows and orphans, and that it would contain a library and be a place for “relics of a patriotic nature.”
In 1905, a fire burned most of the structure that left only the front stone facade and tower, taking with it the Briggs Public Library. The building was soon rebuilt and used solely as a library. Memorial Hall also suffered from the Ohio River floods of 1913 and 1933 but no major damage was reported.
After the library moved out in the 1960’s, Memorial Hall was reused as the Ironton city jail and city hall until 1996. A deteriorating roof, floor joist, and stairs led to its closure.
A strong thunderstorm on August 16, 2007 damaged the front entrance framing of Memorial Hall after a sudden drop in barometric pressure caused a vortex to form inside the building. An assessment report from E.L. Robinson was not promising. The report stated that while the exterior framing was in great condition, the inside was in “dire shape.”
The two recommendations given to the City Council included a tear-down or restoration, estimated to cost $200,000 and $7.7 million, respectively. A third option would be to gut the building and to erect a steel structure on the outside to keep the building standing as a monument, estimated to cost $500,000.
The interior would require complete removal because of structural concerns. The building would also need to be abated for asbestos and lead paint. The city pursued grants for further structural assessment.
A town hall meeting hosted by Mayor Rich Blankenship on June 24, 2008 allowed citizens and architects to voice their opinion regarding the future of Memorial Hall. Architects Walker and Associates presented a plan to demolish the interior of the structure, install steel bracing for support and convert the building site into a park with a stage at a cost of $240,000. The bracing would also be load-bearing so that in the future floors could be re-installed.
One citizen proposed a bed and breakfast and offices, although the costs was estimated at $3 million to $4 million, making such a proposal economically unfeasible.
On November 24, representatives from American Legion Post 433 stated that they would join other veterans groups in an attempt to rebuild Memorial Hall. The Post sought the support of other local veterans groups, hosting the the Memorial Hall Festival on August 15, 2009. The Post formed the Veterans Memorial Hall Restoration Fund, a nonprofit founded for the purpose of the building’s restoration.
The Post had hoped to receive a grant from the federal government for $2.4 million. In order to obtain the grant, the non-profit would have had to own the building. The city had planned to transfer the building to the Ironton Port Authority, who would have then transferred it to the non-profit if it could raise $500,000 towards the restoration within two years. Unfortunately, the groups were only able to raise $20,000 and gave up their private fundraising efforts.
A detailed structural assessment of Memorial Hall was conducted on May 6, 2011. It was recommended that Memorial Hall be demolished because restoration costs could be as high as $8 million. A tear down would cost $250,000.
In early 2012, the mayor approached county commissioners about the possibility of transferring ownership of the building from the city to the county. Possible reuse potential included a countywide emergency operations center for dispatchers and emergency medical services. The county had applied for a $1 million Homeland Security grant in 2011 for that specific purpose but did not receive it.
In early 2014, the city engineer estimated that the cost of partially demolishing Memorial Hall was $118,000. When bids were opened, none were received. A second round of bidding also produced no results. On the third attempt, two bids were received for $127,000 and $158,000.
Demolition of Memorial Hall began in early June by Southern Ohio Salvage.
Workers from Southern Ohio Salvage & Construction demolish parts of the Memorial Hall building on Tuesday, June 10, 2014, in Ironton, Ohio.
Photo Source: The Herald-Dispatch
“Spirit of the Times” Now Viewable Online!
The Ohio History Connection now has online the old Ironton newspaper, “The Spitit of the Times,” which ran from 1853 until 1856. A subscription was one dollar per year. Here’s the link.
The Ironton City School’s web site has alumni listings all the way back to the 1800s…. Here’s the link.
Just put your mouse over “Alumni” at the top, then “Class Of….” and slide it over to the year you want.
Martial Law Declared in Hanging Rock
Arrest of Youth for Shooting Mine Superintendent Precipitates Disturbance
Governor of Ohio Sends Soldiers to Scene at Ironton and Crowds Disperse
“San Francisco Call, Volume 96, Number 2. June 2, 1904
June 1 – Four companies of the militia were today ordered to proceed to Hanging Rock, near Ironton, on the Ohio River. Governor Henrick ordered out Company K of Portsmouth, Company I of Ironton and two companies from Gallipolis and Manchester. Colonel A.C. Thompson assumed command. The companies left at once for Hanging Rock on a special train.
The arrest of James Fuller, a young striker, on suspicion of having shot superintendent William Jeffries of the Hanging Rock Iron Company, precipitated serious trouble today. Fuller was arrested by The arrest of James Fuller, a young strlker, on suspicion of having shot Superintendent William Jeffries of the Hanging Rock Iron Company, precipitated serious trouble to-day. Fuller was arrested by Constable Kinkaid and the strikers did not take the arrest in pleasant spirit. They gathered in groups to discuss it. Both sides to the controversy assumed a threatening attitude and Sheriff Payne of this city was called upon for assistance. He investigated and found the situation critical. He thereupon called for troops and his call was approved by the Governor. When the troops arrived this afternoon Hanging Rock was placed under martial law and the crowds were dispersed. Harvey Reed, who refused to obey the troops, was arrested. James Fuller was also arrested on a charge preferred before the troops arrived.
Indianapolis Journal, Volume 54, Number 154,Indianapolis, Marion County, 2 June 1904
IRONTON, O., June 1. Hanging Rock. the scene of the outbreak between striker and nonunion men employed by the Hanging Rock Iron Company, is now under martial law. The crowd of armed striker have been dispersed and the furnace
district is comparatively quiet tonight. The third battalion of the Ohio National Guard is now at Hanging Rock. Col. A. C. Thompson Is in command of the troops, including Company K of Portsmouth. Company I of Ironton and two companies from Gallipolis and Manchester, under command of Major Howe, of the Seventh Infantry.
When the troops arrived this afternoon Hanging Rock was placed under martial law and the crowds were dispersed. Harvey Reed, who refused to obey the troops, was arrested. The trouble today started when a lot of Winchesters arrived for the nonunion men by a steamboat. The strikers then turned out, parading the streets with their Winchesters and threatening the nonunion men wherever found, especially the colored men who had taken the places of strikers in the furnaces. It was announced at the same time that the new men were also armed. It was feared that a serious collision would occur at any time and a reign of terror existed over what was expected during the night. The arrest of James Fuller, a young striker on suspicion of having shot Superintendent William Jeffries, of the Hanging; Rock Iron Company, precipitated serious trouble before the troops arrived. Fuller was arrested by Constable Klncaid and the strikers did not take the arrest In pleasant spirit. They gathered in groups to discuss it. Both sides to the controversy assumed threatening attitudes and Sheriff Payne, of this city, was called upon for assistance. He investigated and found the situation critical. He thereupon called for troops, and his call was approved by Governor Herrick, who ordered out the third battalion. The trouble at the furnaces In the Hanging Rock district is due to the attempt to supply the places or strikers with nonunion men, many of the latter being negroes from Virginia. There were several collisions last Sunday. in one of which Albert Sperry was seriously hurt. On Monday night an attack was made on an old church where a party of nonunionists had taken refuge and 300 shots were exchanged. Later Superintendent Jeffries, of the Hamilton furnace, was shot, but not seriously hurt. There were few casualties, considering the extent of the shooting.
“Stephen D. Burcham: The history behind the Seal of Lawrence County, Ohio”
Many people know that Lawrence County has an official seal, but are unaware of the historical significance of the items which appear therein. The seal grew from a discussion of various members of the Lawrence County Historical Society including Ironton residents Dr. John Haney, Lou Ann Blagg, Buddy Haney, Tim Selb, Art Shaffer, John Jones, Isabelle Jones and Proctorville resident Margery “Betty” Burcham. The committee wanted the seal to reflect the history and heritage of our county.
After several meetings, this committee decided to include depictions of three symbols and the year of the county’s formation on the seal. The furnace in the upper left hand corner of the seal is representative of an Iron Furnace (17 were located in the county) from the Hanging Rock Iron Region representing pig iron manufactured in this county in the 1800s. These furnaces were blast furnaces – iron ore and limestone were smelted in a furnace heated by burning charcoal with a blast of air. Smaller furnaces could produce one to two tons of iron per day and were often cast directly into pots, kettles and skillets. Larger furnaces could produce up to 100 tons of iron which was cast into heavier machinery and weapons used during the Civil War.
The apple on the seal is from the eastern end of the county, which was the birthplace of the Rome Beauty Apple. The apple originated on the Gillette family farm near Proctorville near the present day site of Fairland East Elementary School. The first tree began to bear fruit in approximately 1820 and was eventually named for the township from which it came. The apple is one of the top 10 varieties of apples produced in the United States. It is a popular variety used for cooking, is red in color and typically ripens in August and September.
The boat depicted on the seal was originally to be a packet boat named Minnie Bay from the Bay Packet Lines. Packet boats moved mail, passengers and freight along the Ohio River to various communities. The Bay Packet Line was a company owned by two Lawrence County brothers, George, who lived in Proctorville, and William, who lived in Ironton. The boats operated on the Ohio River during the 1800s. Over the course of the company’s lifetime, it operated over 50 packet boats between Pittsburgh and Cincinnati, and was the largest packet boat company on the Ohio River. The brothers also had a sister, Sarah Bay Smith, who was the first licensed female river boat pilot on the Ohio River, which was during a time in which women did not yet have the right to vote. Her headstone in Woodland Cemetery has a pilot wheel depicted on it to note her accomplishment. The Minnie Bay was a single story boat; however, the artist who designed the seal, Lee “Danny” Daniels of Chesapeake, felt a multiple story paddlewheel was a better emblem for the seal.
The seal was officially adopted by the Lawrence County Commissioners on November 6, 1985.
Lawrence County has a proud heritage. The seal of the county depicts only a portion of the role we have played in the development of our nation.
Submitted by Stephen D. Burcham, Lawrence County Ohio Treasurer and lifelong resident of Proctorville.
Morris Block Fire
Ironton Register, Thursday, January 14, 1892, Volume 43, Page 27
MORRIS BLOCK IN FLAMES – On the 4th, there was a fire at Morris Block, which was extinguished before it did a great deal of harm. On the 8th, the fire broke out again and destroyed the block. The alarm was sounded at 5 o’clock a.m., but before the fire companies got there, and they were prompt, the building was doomed. The part occupied by Fletcher’s store and furniture, was filed with flame, and in a few minutes the entire block was enveloped, and a great volume of flame issued from the building, causing roof, floors and walls to tumble. So hot were the flames, that the awnings on the opposite side of the street caught fire, and the heat broke the plate glass in the bookstore and ladies’ store fronts. The fire companies did all that was possible, and the fire did not do even greater destruction, was due to their vigorous efforts. Six streams were thrown on the flames constantly, or were turned on adjacent property as occasion demanded. When the west wall of the block tumbled, it crushed in a frame building belonging to E. Bixby, and occupied by Esq. Henry. Mr. Weiler’s, house, close up to Morris Block, was saved by the firemen, though the interior got a good wetting. All the property of K. of P. in their hall in the third story; all of Fletcher’s furniture and goods: all the type, presses, stock and material of the Republican office, were destroyed. And the block itself is a complete wreck. The East building of the block is standing, but it is a mere shell and will be removed. The block was insured for $9,000; the Republican office for $3,500, and Fletcher’s for $3,500. The cause of the fire seems to have been merely a revival of the conflagration four days before.