Masonic Building – Part 2
In 1926, the O.P. Ivie Motor Co. moved into the street level floor of the newly constructed Masonic Building as its first tenant. Ivie Motor Co. was the “Dodge Brothers” dealer in Montevallo, selling Dodge cars and trucks, as well as gasoline, oil, and automotive accessories. As was the case with so many businesses in town in the early to mid-twentieth century, other lines of goods were offered for sale as well. Among these were furniture grade Philco radio consoles and Norge electric refrigerators.
Apparently the dealership was not a viable business for more than a few years because the advertising record shows that “Mike’s Billiard Hall” had taken its place by 1931. A local weekly newspaper, the Montevallo Times, began publication in 1933 and rented space in the basement of the building for its offices and print shop.
The billiard hall must not have been profitable enough for its proprietor, H.H. Elliott, because by 1933, Allen-Craig Grocery Co. had replaced it as the street level tenant. The competition among the many grocery stores in Montevallo must have been too much for Mr. Allen and Mr. Craig, because within a year they transitioned into the appliance business and began operating as Home Appliance Co. They lasted for about a year more in the Masonic building when they relocated in 1935 to the Wilson building on Middle Street next door to the existing McGaughy Grocery Co.
Retailing in Montevallo appears to have been a risky and topsy-turvy situation in the 1930’s because by 1937, Gilbert’s Haberdashery separated from Montevallo Cleaners, also on Middle Street, and moved into the space in the Wilson building where Allen-Craig had set up shop.
It’s unclear who may have been the street level Masonic Building occupant for the interval of 1936-1941 following Allen-Craig’s departure. However, things picked up as the 1940’s began.
The advertising record shows that the “musical chairs” of relocation being played by merchants that began in the Middle Street district did not spare the Masonic Building. By 1941, Joe Klotzman had made a false start with his plans to bring a new hardware store to the Masonic Building and in his place came Tommy Latham’s relocated bowling alley, which had been in the basement of White Hardware a block away which Klotzman did succeed in acquiring for a new clothing store. It appears that the bowling alley then had to get out of the way again just a few months after its move to make way for the relocation of Gilbert’s from Middle Street to the Masonic Building. We can only speculate about what caused so many Montevallo retail businesses to pull up stakes and change places or find new digs during the war years.
Advertising for Gilbert’s Ready-to-Wear in local publications seems to have died out in the mid-1940’s, and it appears that the street level space of the Masonic Building was soon taken over by the Walter C. Weems Insurance Agency, where it remained until moving to Middle Street at the end of the decade.
In our next installment, we will meet the four long-term tenants that have occupied the Masonic Building from 1950 until today. After their first 25 rocky years as landlord to the colorful array of tenants that came and went so often during that time period, there can be no doubt that the members of Lodge No. 70 must have appreciated the more than half-century of stability they have enjoyed from the good tenants that followed.
Thank you Clay Nordan, Vice President of Montevallo Historical Society, for this information!