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.