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Early occupants of the Fred Hill building, 1922-1926


In October 1922, the Adair County News stated that Mr. Fred Hill's new building, sandwiched between the Paull Drug Co. and the not-yet-completed Bank of Columbia, neared completion.

The first mention of an occupant came just a few weeks later in the form of several short text-only ads, scattered about on the front page of the December 5 edition, for a new combination grocery-eatery. Two of those entries nicely pinpointed the location of the enterprise: one stated it was "next to Paull Drug Co." and the other, "just above the bank."

(Two of the other ads mentioned that lunch and hot coffee were served at all hours, while yet another informed the reader that "the best brands of coffee and the best quality sugar" and "everything else kept in the grocery line" could be found there.)

A few weeks later, block ads in the December 19 and 26 editions referred to it as "A place to eat so different" and made a point that ladies especially were invited as customers. The establishment also carried "A first class line of candies, fruits, nuts, cigars, and tobacco," with "The best of service guaranteed." The name W.R. (Wyatt Rogers) Conover appeared at the bottom of the advertisement.

Mr. Conover ran the establishment for close to eight weeks.

Near the end of January 1923, the paper reported that
"Mr. Joe Nance has purchased the restaurant formerly owned by Wyatt Conover. He is a restaurant man and something good to eat can at all times be found at his place."
Mr. Nance kept the eatery going for seven and a half months, but just before the autumnal equinox 1923, he sold it to Messrs. Herbert Sheets ("a young minister in the Christian Church") and Leon Lewis, and the News opined those gentleman would "make an effort to serve the very best of edibles." When Mr. Sheets married in early December 1923, he and Mr. Lewis were still partners in the venture. (This was the last of just four references found in the paper regarding Rev. Sheets. Alas, this man of the cloth later strayed from the straight and narrow.)

At some point, Mr. Sheets apparently sold his interest to Mr. Lewis, because the latter-named gentleman sold the business to Herbert Taylor in August 1924, whereupon Mr. Taylor announced he would hire a manager to run the place. At an unknown date after that, Lewis Coffey gained proprietorship, and in turn, the News reported toward the end of July 1925 that Mr. Coffey had "sold his restaurant next to Paull Drug Co. to Mr. Robt. Neat, who is now in charge with competent help." No mention was found in the paper of when or from whom Mr. Lewis had made the purchase.

In August and September 1924, a handful of ads for the Columbia Restaurant appeared in the News. Although the ads gave no identification in regard to location or owner/proprietor, it looks as if the words "Columbia Restaurant," significantly obscured by a power pole in the photograph, appear on the window of the building.

At the end of September that year, the News relayed the information that "Robt. Neat has sold his restaurant to C.P. [Clarence Pleasant] Walters of Fonthill, Russell County, The latter is now in charge." Two months later, Mr. Walters' marriage announcement specifically identified him as the recent purchaser of the Columbia Restaurant.

Mr. Walters apparently either hired someone to run the operation or very quickly divested himself of it (likely the latter), as just days prior to Christmas 1925, the News informed readers that "Jo Nance, the reliable restaurant man, is again in business, ready to serve the public. He is located next to the Paull Drug. Co."

A few weeks later, early in January 1926, an article on an inside page stated that
"Mr. Jo Nance has removed his restaurant to the building on the north side of the square, formerly occupied as a barber shop. Mr. Mont Maupin who owns the barber shop, has removed to the building on the West side of the square, occupied by Mr. Nance."
(A few years later, Mr. Nance opened another restaurant in Columbia, the Blue & White, possibly named as a tip of the hat to the school colors of Lindsey Wilson Junior College.)

Late in 1926, a twice-appearing paid announcement gave the location of Maupin & Marshall's Barber Shop as "Next door to Bank of Columbia." (Mr. R.P. Marshall had previously been associated with the Royal Cafe. In 1928, he and his family removed to Smith's Grove, but they returned to Columbia in September 1929 and in March the following year, he, Claude Allen, and Frank Browning opened a barber shop in the Hotel Miller.)

The sequence of events above, although certainly not conclusive, points to the "dog and bank" photo having been made in the three year span between late 1922, when Mr. Conover became the first occupant of the Hill Building, and the forepart of 1926, when Mr. Maupin set up his tonsorial parlor there.

This story was posted on 2019-12-18 06:37:49
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1926 Maupin and Marshall Barber Shop ad

2019-12-18 - Columbia, KY - Photo courtesy JIM.
This ad appeared in the December 7 and 14, 1926, editions of the Adair County News, the only mentions found in the newspaper of Maupin & Marshall's Barber Shop, located "Next door to Bank of Columbia."

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