Nov 01

Bearden's Stable

Posted on November 1, 2023 at 2:06 PM by Ken Kocher

Newspaper clipping stating Fire at MadisonThe Savannah Morning News, August 5, 1892

Capt. F.B. Terry ran a livery stable in a large wooden building on the corner of Second Street (now Academy) and W. Washington Street in 1892 (Amici's). On August 5 of that year a fire destroyed the building, Terry narrowly escaping death by jumping from a window. He lost one horse, one mule, and several fine carriages and buggies. Several small adjoining houses were also destroyed. M.E. High offered use of his stables to Terry and petitioned Mayor E.W. Butler to allow Terry to conduct a livery business in his stables without taking out a new license. Butler refused. According to the Savannah Morning News, “[This] angered Mr. High. He met Mayor Butler on the streets. Some words passed between them, and the two men clinched. Friends interfered and the two gentlemen were separated without any great personal injury to either. The mayor’s coat was nearly torn off while Mr. High’s finger was hurt slightly.” F.B. Terry does not appear to have opened another livery stable in Madison, eventually moving to Griffin.

Meanwhile, the lot where Terry’s stable had been remained vacant. The Madisonian lamented in 1893, “Now, if somebody will improve the burnt livery stable lot… that part of the city would look better.” It would be four years before anyone heeded this call. In 1897 J.T. Newton, who owned the lot, built brick stables for G.A. Bearden’s use. Hence, the structure’s original name: the Newton Building. Almost immediately, Bearden (known as Gabe), added a forty-foot wooden addition to the rear. There was a lot going on there. In addition to the feeding, hitching, trading, and swapping horses and mules, J.H. Houghton offered a stallion (Bourbon Belmont) for stud services, Gabe had a fine Jersy bull available for the same, and a fine breed of boars were available for purchase. Plus, Oliver Hollis, an African American Madisonian, had a restaurant in a portion of the building. No jokes about the source of the meat please. And, in case anyone was worried, Mr. Hollis assured everyone that, “He has a separate apartment where his white friends are served by polite waiters with all good things to eat.”

Bearden's Stable ad and 1901 Sanborn Fire Insurance mapThe High Shoals messenger. (High Shoals, Ga.), October 14, 1897/1901 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map

Building on his success, Bearden rented a second stable on the corner of Burnett and Hancock (no longer extant) in 1901 specializing the use of each. In his words, “Now I want to run livery business alone in the Newton stable, as the space is too small for transient, and kindly ask my customers who wish to hitch, feed, sell, buy, or swap to stop at the BIG STABLE.” In other words, if you wanted to hire out a buggy or carriage and/or horses, the Newton stable was your place, but if you were stabling for the day – kind of a horse & mule parking garage – or were looking to buy, sell, or swap you would head over to Hancock Street. Despite his apparent success, G.A. Bearden put the livery outfit – ten head horses with vehicles, harness, etc. to match – and business up for sale in August of 1902.

Brick livery stable building

Aug 28

Fresh Baked Bread!

Posted on August 28, 2023 at 2:20 PM by Ken Kocher

John Claus Bohlen, originally from Stadt Bremerhaven, Germany, arrived in Madison via Augusta to ply his skills as a baker less than a decade after his service during the Civil War. Possibly arriving as early as 1872, Bohlen built the building at 173 S. Main in 1876. Described in the Augusta Constitutionalist as “a fine brick store, handsomely furnished with every convenience for carrying on the baking and confectionery business.” Behind the main body of the store was a bake house and behind that an oven. While the oven has been removed, the bake house remains in place.1885 map of bakery with 2022 photo of buildingBohlen was popular, known for his kind heart and gentle spirit. This may have led to a miscalculation on the part of a young man choosing Bohlen’s store to play a prank – riding a horse into the store. The story goes that when one of the boys started riding into Bohlen’s store, he reached for a big cheese knife and meeting the rider at the door lost no time in showing him exactly what would happen to him if he rode “that damn mule” in his store. The ride ended at the door.1893 ad for I.D. Comstock BakeryIn 1893, a new bakery opened in the building, that of I.D. Comstock. Like Bohlen, Comstock also dealt in confectionaries, fruits, and fine groceries. He also made “the nicest Saratoga Chips you have ever eaten.” What’s that you say? We call them potato chips now. Five years later Comstock closed up shop and moved to Michigan, his home state. W.L. “Will” Walker opened a Hat and Shoe Store here around 1905. He went out of business September 1, 1913, and it was reported that “a man from South Carolina” would conduct a bakery in the place. The rumor was unfounded as the Madison Shoe Store, run by Mell Richardson and Ed Prince, opened instead. The business lasted a year.1916 ads for Model BakeryMrs. Bohlen, her husband having passed in 1911, advertised the building for rent noting in the ad that Madison needed a bakery. A few months later, the Madisonian echoed this sentiment stating, “Madison needs a bakery, and Mrs. Bohlen has the place for it.” The call was answered by G.L. Moore who opened the Model Bakery in this space in December of 1915. Moore employed Paul Lex as his baker who, like the original baker in this building, brought his skill “from far away Germany.” Despite an August 9, 1918, report that Moore was doing a splendid business, the building came available for rent December 1. This would not be the end of baked goods produced at this location, but it is the end of this post. We will pick up the thread later.

Aug 05

Old Town Hall

Posted on August 5, 2023 at 4:55 PM by Ken Kocher

In 1856, Joshua Hill, William Saffold, and Carter Shepherd chartered the Madison Town Hall Company for the purpose of “building and improving property for the purpose of renting the same.” The property was at the corner of Burnett and Main. As with nearly all downtown, this building was lost in the catastrophic 1869 fire. A new, two-story, brick building quickly replaced the burned one. It contained two ground floor storefronts and a hall upstairs for public meetings. The stores were occupied by Harris Bros., dealers in Dry Goods & Groceries, and Barber & Crawford, dealers in Dry Goods. Over the next decade, the spaces may have been occupied by Bill Matthews, also Dry Goods & Groceries, and J.G. Blair, Groceries. When the Alpha Company, Madison’s first volunteer fire department, was organized in 1882, the upstairs became known as “Fireman’s Hall.” With the acquisition of a Hook and Ladder Truck and a chemical engine, Alpha Company occupied one of the ground floor spaces. Next door was W.W. Leake’s confectionary shop – with his mother’s millinery and dress shop at the rear. Upstairs, E.A. Rice was printing his newspaper, the Advertiser1885 firemen in front of building

Alpha Company in front of Town Hall c. 1885

These were the occupants when disaster hit again – the Charleston Earthquake of August 31, 1886. Yes, Charleston. This intraplate earthquake was massive and radiated seismic energy across the eastern United States. The shock was felt as far away as Boston, Massachusetts, to the north, Chicago, Illinois, to the northwest, New Orleans, Louisiana, to the west, and across water to Cuba to the south, and Bermuda to the east. Suffering the greatest damage in Madison was the Town Hall Building. The Madisonian reported, “The walls of this building are said to bulge, and great cracks in the same caused the city council [current owner of the building] to formally state to the tenants that the city would not be held for any damage done them by falling walls, which may occur at any time.”Charleston earthquake map

Reported intensities for the 1886 Charleston earthquake. (From Bollinger, 1977.)
Note: Morgan County = 7

The city council sold its condemned interest in the building to M.L. Richter and set about planning and constructing a new City Hall & Engine House. Meanwhile, Martin Richter was repairing the old Town Hall Building. By October 1887 he moved his jewelry store from across the street to the left half of the building “under the old town hall.” It appears that he may have widened the window openings of the storefront as the Madisonian noted that the building was much improved. They expounded, “He has the prettiest plate glass windows we ever saw in a town of our size, the glass cost $50.00 alone, and adds much to the appearance of that end of the street.” He initially named the business the Palace Art Store. N.C. Edwards of Sharon, Georgia, briefly had a general merchandise store in the right half, but otherwise the space remained vacant until around 1892 when a new occupant would bring steady traffic to the building. We will pick up that thread in a future blog post.

M.L. Richter 1891 invoice