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Old Emmitsburg Businesses

Mary Hoke

Since its beginning in 1786, Emmitsburg has been a self-sufficient town. It had many small stores, dentists, doctors, garages, hotels and our own local police force. All the needs of its citizens were supplied without the need of horse and buggy, or automobile. Within my memory of over eighty years, the blacksmith shop, the newspaper, the opera house, the high school, and the ‘girls’ college have all gone. And that is called "Progress?"

Caldwell's Store

Starting at the west end of Main Street on the north side, nothing was more interesting to the young then Caldwell's store. How exciting to walk up there with a penny, climb up on the bench in front of the candy cane and gaze, drool, and get your favorite ‘sweet.’

The pennies were often earned by selling, at Frailey's foundry, the horseshoes we found lying in the alleys and streets.

Hays' Tin Shop

Duke or Oscar Frailey would give children $.05 for their findings. Caldwell's store at 324 West Main Street is now a residence and the foundry is gone too, replaced by a brick residence opposite the Presbyterian Church.

I might add here that all five of our town's churches have not disappeared or been torn down. Praise be!

Between Caldwell’s store and Frailey's Foundry there were Hays' Tin Shop and

Shuff’s Funeral Home & Furniture Store

Shuff’s Funeral Home & Furniture Store. I was sent quite often to Shuff’s for sewing machine needles. At Mrs. May’s house, next to the tin shop where stoves were also made and sold, we visited quite often; I guess because of the lovely cookies she always had on hand for youngsters. She is well remembered for her kindness to all and for her family of boys and one girl, who were our early playmates and schoolmates.

Frank Rove shoe store

In the next block Frank Rowe had a shoe store and, if we weren't watching the smithy at the anvil, we stopped at Mr. Rowe's and watched intently as he made or mended shoes. Above his shop was where the Emmitsburg Chronicle had its start in 1906, under Mr. Sterling Galt’s editorship.

Next to Mr. Rowe's was a large grocery and candy business. Guy King had a store there before it became Matthew's Bottling Works & Store - our soda pop was made right in town.

Mathew's Store

When Guy King had the business, he hired young boys with little wagons to peddle bananas over town. My late cousin, born in 1887, was one of the boys hired. Today it is the shop of a plumber and the office of a doctor. Between the King era and today, F. S. K. Matthew's sold candy, ice cream, tobacco, etc., there.  Each of us in our teens worked there in the soda fountain making sodas, shakes and selling ‘tub’ candy at ten cents per pound. Later Zurgables hardware ran there, with paint as well as furniture, then another hardware dealer had it, before Matthews' heirs sold the property to Reckley's plumbing.

Once there were three doctors as well as two or three dentists serving the town. Next to Reckley’s plumbing was Rowe's residence, #300, with livery stable at the rear where horses and carriages could be rented. This residence became the home and office of Dr. Cadle, who worked here many years as a general practitioner.

In the #200 block the three Felix sisters ran the telephone office most efficiently and in a helpful manner. We were even told of calls that came for us when we happened to be out, if they were from a distance or important.

House #210, now a funeral home, was once Cauliflower's store, with wagon parts, etc. and then it was a residence only. We used to visit there with a daughter of the house and would fill paper vases with water and drop them on unsuspecting pedestrians from the bay window upstairs.

Then came our favorite spot for "I spy' and "Kick the wicket" - Frizzel’s Feed, Coal and Grain business. There were lots of coal and feed bins to hide in for our games and I never saw a rat there. Then it housed in turn the library, a bake shop, a notions’ store and a beauty salon. Today the Laundromat is in one section and the rest of the building is in small apartments. Behind it, and the funeral home, is an acre of black top replacing lovely yards of the past.

West of the U. C. C. Church - once German Reformed - was a large ice cream and candy store, with delicious "sundaes" and an elegant array of chocolates. Back of the ice cream parlor was a bowling alley. So many pleasant evenings could be spent with bowling, refreshments and sometimes singing with our friends around the tables in the ice cream "parlor."

Right beyond the church, going east, there was a shoe repair shop, a bakeshop and now it's a residence. Have you been to a real butcher shop lately? There used to be three in town at one time. Now all meat comes packaged so you can't tell the fat in it or how succulent it might be. Next to the shoe repair was a fine butcher shop for many years, with free soup bones and any and all cuts of meat. Then it became a store on groceries and meat, but now it is a living quarters for the descendants.

The very next building, #109, was the office and home of Dr. Stone, one of the three doctors a generation or so ago. And by the way, Dr. Stone’s widow married a Dr. Rig who practiced here. There also was an office there for one of the dentists. Then the medical Dr.’s office became a barbershop and a lawyer from Frederick had some hours per week where the dentist had been. Today, there's no barbershop or office, only owners of the home plus several apartments.

To start off the next block there was a fascinating store - Toker’s. Remember the ‘girly’ magazines, flat fifty cigarettes, and Sunday papers? His lovely wife fed factory workers at lunch in her kitchen and I remember strumming on her auto harp which she kept on the table for us. When the parents died and children gone elsewhere, the Lutheran Church bought the land and made lawn and black top alley. I forgot that, before Toker’s emporium came into existence, a man had Adelsberger's tin shop selling all sorts of pots, pans and hardware, too, in the building and her son and his large family lived in the house next door.

As a young girl, I remember haircuts in the second barbershop on West Main Street. There were no beauty parlors so down we trekked for haircuts where the pharmacy is now. The pharmacy then was where the Palms Restaurant holds forth. There was a nice foods fountain parlor in half of the drug store where the Palms bar is. Some of us waited on customers there, in the ice cream parlor, when we were teenagers.

On the North West ‘square’ corner, the Annon-Horner Bank was thriving in the 1890's, with A. A. Horner's residence above. Then the Green Parrot Tea shop opened there, the second place it’s been. It was such a fine restaurant it needed the large "bank" building. Now the V.F.W. owns it and has its bar, meeting room and lounge, with the Auxiliary upstairs.

The Green Parrot built it's own brand new place at East Main. The new owners rented the 3rd floor for a while. Our only veterinarian, Dr. A. A. Martin, in the early 20th century lived above the Annon-Horner Bank. On the corner of West Main Street and North Seton Avenue there has always been a store of some sorts; clothing stores, drug store - Dr. Treiber's, a great place to hang out for the high school and college youths. They all flourished for many years. 

Doc Treiber's wife had a Notion’s store in part of the building. I remember her green visor she wore in the store. I guess her eyes were failing. In the back of the building many years ago, there was a small beauty salon. Now the building is a drug store with no pharmacist but only across the counter drugs, cards, gifts and Fire Academy T-Shirts and souvenirs.

Across the old "Gettysburg Street" stood a bicycle shop in the first corner of the large residence of Annon Brothers house, built for them. It has a pair of curving identical steps like a mirror reflection. The house part is nice apartments now. Before the Annon House was built in 1868. It was another brick dwelling used by the early Catholics for services. The bicycle shop later housed Houcks’ clothing store and then the Green Parrot for a time, and now is a liquor store. A beauty shop is in the other half of the 1st floor. I have no recollection of what ran where the beauty shop is now - before Houcks store which used the whole first floor.

Then the K. of C. building, which was once a hotel, then with the K. of C. in constant ownership, it was used by the Mother Seton Guild before her canonization, after Houck’s store had been there for a while. Today it's an excellent place to eat and the K. of C. meeting rooms and bar are above.

East Main Street had far fewer businesses then west - maybe because of the fire in 1863. But below the center or "Square" as it is called, on the north side, after a residence, was a small shop where a retired Saint Joseph’s College professor had a little gift shop. Now it's a regular barbershop, almost the type "for men only." Next, going east, was a lovely little teashop for a short while. Now it's Humerick's Insurance. On the property below the house next in line, there's a very small building where "Fettle" was sold. Mr. Galt of Chronicle fame was the owner of "Fettle" business. It was a homeopathic liquid for stomach problems, very bitter. Later on, that little building also housed the library in it's "hard-up" days. 

In the 100 block coming next was the third town doctor of my memory - Dr. Freeman. At the end of that block was a flourishing butcher business, Quincy Shoemaker, owner. He peddled meat in Thurmont as well as in his store and he gave the boys who followed his truck hot dogs - raw! Roy Bollinger carried on the business. Today the building houses "Radio Shack" and a TV business. No more meat!

In the next block was our third medical doctor at that time, Dr. Browner. His office and home is now a residence. No more in that block except an old house with siding now covering it, but a brick spring house in the rear which shows its the age.

In the next block, #301, stands an old stone factory, covered now with siding and windows gone. It was once a sewing factory and, some say, an opera house. Today it is the Masonic home. Then on down at the end of the block, Mrs. McNair built the "Green Parrot" - its third home. It thrived there as one of the famous restaurants of this area and beyond. It remained there until it closed due to ill health of the owner. Now it is a garden and farm-implement supply store.

Below this block there once were no businesses but now there is a garage, repair shop, tire store and residence. Across Flat Run, where a large farm was sacrificed, there stands the only real grocery store for the area. Pity those who can't drive!

Coming westward on the south side, the first business was Gillelan’s Cash & Carry House, which became Boyle’s store, which served us so well for many years. It's now a deli, video store and artist studio. Mark Harting had a fascinating match repair shop and the second floor above those stores long ago. He also "did" bicycles. I still have the watch my mother bought second hand at Harting's place. That was in 1926. I treasure it because in days of dire poverty she sacrificed much to get my graduation gift, and the watch still works. Now the upper two floors are apartments. No more businesses in my memory until we got toward the "square." That side of the street on right was in front of the Guthrie & Beam livery, the Antique Hall parking lot would be the site of the livery stable.

So we get to the bank and town office section. For many years a grocery store thrived where the bank drive-in road and the bank’s extension are built. First, there was Kerrigan's grocery, then A & P store, then Bill Rowe's store. Somewhere along the line was a shoe repair shop, and also Keilholtz's restaurant. Keilholtz moved to the site of Palm restaurant and then to the site of the Carriage House restaurant, before going out of business.

Where the bank stands there was also a lovely archway to a brick residence. Then comes the Slagle Hotel, or Western or Eagle, whatever year it was mentioned it had different names and possibly different owners. Today, it houses apartments and a video shop with pizza shop on the ground floor or basement. Once there was a five and dime store in the basement, a barbershop and a fast lunch place.

Now let's consider the thriving north side of West Main Street. On the ‘square’ corner was the Post Office for many years, in what was called the Zimmerman building. The building was built on the site of the first log house in town. The Post Office in the past had three female post mistresses -- Mrs. Foremen, wife of one of our dentist, Mrs. Combo, and Miss Grace Rove. Women's Lib started earlier than we realize, didn't it?

Next to the Post Office one of the Zimmermann's had an excellent furniture store in what is now Ott's Crab House. After the demise of the furniture store there followed two or three different renters running restaurants or tearooms. We called them tearooms if they were a little fancier with real cloths on tables and fancier foods. The large building, housing Ott's Pub today, was Isaac Annon's store, then Acme store, Charlie Harner's store, and in other parts of the ground floor there was a beauty shop, then a hardware store and the library. Today all of the first floor is used by the "Pub." Apartments were above and are still there.

The Fire Company has purchased the rest of that first block. Bern Welty’s house, where one of the early town choral societies met, is now rented out by the Fire Company. Next to that was Harry Rowe’s little store. We enjoyed stopping in that tiny spot to watch him smoking the last bit of his cigar, holding it by sticking a toothpick through the last inch of it. Before the fire company tore that building down for their expansion, there was another dentist and his office there. He now resides in Emmit Gardens. The main and oldest building housing the Fire Company was the original Chronicle building and when the school was being built in the 1920'a we attended grade school there waiting for the new school's completion. The Mesons used to meet above the Fire Company. The Chronicle moved to South Seton Avenue using the old school house in 1922. The Chronicle owned the building from 1908-1922.

The Fire Company also bought the large brick house west of the Chronicle building. It was once the Presbyterian parsonage with lovely large rooms. Now there are numerous small rooms and quite a few apartments. The building is Flemish bond patterned brick with a water table in the brick works; water table is thought to be efficient in keeping rain from cellars. This brick building is thought to be the third brick building built in Emmitsburg. The rear gardens are now more blacktop.

The first house in the 100 block used to be the home of Levin Matter, tanner, he added onto the already standing structure in 1798 and, in 1810, the right end to the original built in 1795. He had a large tanning business, which extended almost to the present day community center. In later years a Nation’s store was in the east end of the building when Ruth Gillelan moved next to her residence from up West Main St.

Two doors up was a tunnel-like entrance to Mike Hoke's excellent restaurant famous for oysters and also it served beer. That little restaurant is today a small residence back from the street. Up the same block, our theater of years past came after the end of Helman's large general merchandise store. Mr. Helman was the author of the 1906 "History of Emmitsburg." East of the theater was a very small building, now gone completely, where Dr. Foreman had a dentist business for a short time. His wife had already entered the picture as one of the three female postmistresses. 

Then abutting that building ran the home of Dr. Jamison. He served Emmitsburg along with Dr. Stone, Dr. Riggs, Dr. Freeman and Dr. Browner. Dr. Jamison is remembered for having collided in his carriage many times with our center square fountain. It is thought drunkenness affected his driving, but maybe he was too tired. Remember they all made house calls then. Today his large home and office combined are three or four apartments.

The first house, #201 in the next block, was of log, then cased in brick and now covered with white siding. An Eyster had a jewelry and watchmaker’s shop and following, the public library was there about 75 years ago. Also the Masonic Lodge met upstairs. Now it is a single-family residence with a garden in the rear. Next door is a long building serving three families. The largest part contained John Gelwick’s large Hardware Store. I remember diamond shaped glass windows up above the second floor -- they spelled ‘Gelwicks’. There were eight of them under the roof edge with pointed capital letters, very attractive. Now siding has caused their disappearance. The three parts of that section are all individual homes, although the largest section’s owner rents rooms.

Right next door at #211 is a very small apartment section where the former Hall Eyster's Jewelry store stood. It’s a very tiny living space now. Number 227, the former Loughhead's Tavern in the early 1800's, contains the other water table in the brick. I know for a fact that there has never been water in the cellar of that house. In the addition, built west of #227 onto the original house, there was a store for various commodities owned by Joshua Motter and one other before him. It was built on in 1838, with bowling in the rear, probably lawn bowling. Then, in my memory, Miss Ruth Gillelan had a ‘utility' shop --notions and dry goods, mostly materials and other things related to sewing. When it closed, the storefront was completely changed and it is a fine residence.

#303 and #305 was the Stoke’s residence with a harness shop in #303. He was also Justice of the Peace and when the police brought offenders we would sneak around back and watch justice being served amid the harness. His wife had a pedal organ and she welcomed the youngsters to come and play it and her cookies were generously shared with us. There was a hitching bar outside and we all learned to chin and 'skin the cat’ there. Then butting right next to it was the third butcher shop in town. 

Then Morris Gillelan ran it and lived next door. After his ownership come Harry Frushour, a teacher who wanted to try his hand at the butcher business. Now after many changes it is a private residence. Next door to it, in the former home of Morris Gillelan, there was an antique business for a while. Number 317, beyond the Methodist Church, for a while, was a men’s clothing store and has now become a residence.

On the corner of this block, where there are numerous apartments owned by Joe Welty, there was the famous grocery store carried on by Joe Hoke, Mr. Sellers, and finally Mr. Clarence Frailey. That Joe Hoke was a distant cousin of the Mike Hoke who ran a hotel on North Seton Avenue and a tavern on West Main. Mike had a son, Joe Hoke who was one of our town fathers in the past. Mr. Frailey had a fine store and is long remembered as the "Santa Claus of the Sunday Schools." He donated all the oranges and candy every year at Christmas to all the churches. At Christmas time we all visited the second floor at the store to see all the things we wished for at Christmas, but the clerk repeatedly was saying "boys don't touch the toys." I don't know whether we girls got a rhyming admonition.

Across the alley in the back of Albert Patterson’s residence we trekked up to Basil Gilson’s shop where milk and cream were sold. In the bygone years we carried our own containers to be filled, bottles arrived later. After the "milk" shop was no more, Mr. Patterson’s daughter, Mrs. Ruth Peppler, for a short time had a yarn and knitting supplies store. In the back garage along the alley, Mr. Warren Kugler refinished furniture for quite some time. Today it is all apartments.

Next door where Joke Hake lived, his daughter, Miss Lottie Hoke, had a lovely tearoom for a short time after being a teacher in our local high school in the 1920's. That building is two residences today. Where an apartment house stands at #501, there once was a thriving granite works. It was called Hoke and Rove, or Rider & Smith, named accordingly by those who worked. They made tombstones and other granite necessities. It is thought prior to the granite works, Nathaniel Rowe was apprenticed to John Armstrong and learned to make guns there. Near the end of this block was Wagman’s garage, followed by Green's bakery and now a small house.

The large building at the intersection was a fine hotel. It had many different names. People spent summers there to get away from the heat of the cities. Today it is completely apartments except for a realtor office and surveying headquarters of the owners.

Going north from the square - now called North Seton Avenue rather than Gettysburg Street, there was Ashbaugh's grocery store. Now replaced by the "new' Irishtown Road which goes out to Poplar Ridge, our favorite place for a walk and for gathering wild flowers in the spring and nuts in the fall.

At #211 there was Mike Hoke’s Hotel, so-called, but really 'Smith’s’. Mike Hoke had married a Smith daughter and chauvinism took over. Today that building is apartments and a beauty salon. Right below this building there was a third barber shop, Mr. Troxell's. Each street took care of necessities for those who lived nearby, with grocers, barbers, etc. The American Legion Building, close to the square, was first a hosiery factory, then clothing. Once, the health clinic was held in the basement. Now the Legion uses the whole property.

On South Seton Ave., formerly Frederick Street, or just "The Pike", as we called it, there were few houses prior to 1870. For a while at #101 the Opera House functioned for presentations, meetings, etc. Then Mike Thompson, Mayor, baseball magnate, built his house on the land which a dentist has turned into his office. By the way, he's the only dentist practicing here now, and we once had two or more here at the same time.

Below that lot stands the Chronicle Press. It was the second school built in Emmitsburg. The first is now the residence of Kuglar's up beyond the hotel at the end of West Main Street. This school on ‘The Pike’ was-for all grades. In 1922 the building housed the Chronicle publishing house, and today above the Chronicle Press - which does printing only - there are apartments. On down the street our only resident lawyer resided, Mr. Vincent Sebold.

These businesses were on the east side and now on the west there was Zimmermann & Maxwell’s feed and grain business. This was followed by numerous restaurants. The ‘Carriage House Inn’ is there now plus a flower shop and a beauty parlor in the same building. Bernard Welty and Joe Wivell had a foundry and blacksmith shop for many years where Paul has his ‘Pit Store’ selling liquor now, with apartments above. The building originally was our only motel. It didn't ‘go’ and now apartments are above the liquor store. The blacksmith did fine ironwork as well as taking care of the horses and farm equipment. The present Sperry building, other than being a Ford garage and salesroom for many years, was the sight of Dukehart's Carriage House, from the days when carriages and horses were "it".

On the Provincial House property, formerly the sight of Emmitsburg Railroad, was Fox’s garage and service station and the St. Joseph's College and Academy for almost 175 years. There now is the large basilica, Villa St. Michael’s, for aged nuns and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Shrine. Most of the College property was sold to the government for the Fire Academy and federal emergency training of firemen from all over the country. The railroad, which used to bring girls to the college via Rocky Ridge and also the school children to Emmitsburg school, has completely disappeared.

The old high school across from St. Joseph’s is now a community center; police, health clinic, library, Scouts, Art classes all use this building as well as the Senior Citizens. It once housed all grades. Today we have only grades K through six.

Up toward the town square was what we once called the ‘Upper’ garage and also Mort’s garage (a lovely brick buildings). John Hollinger owns the upper garage. It is empty except for a small apartment in the front. The lovely 'Mort' or 'Wagerman' (since he had a garage there also) building was torn down to make parking for the Ott’s Apartment.

In conclusion, I must say that there have been so many changes, so many losses of the small businesses, I wonder are these changes all good, or would we like a little more community self-sufficiency?

I'm sure many readers can tell me what my 80 years of living here have forgotten, but maybe you'll enjoy the reminiscing anyway. 

Have your own memories of people in Emmitsburg?  
If so, send them to us at history@emmitsburg.net

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