Category Archives: Buildings

Demolition of Old Post Office/Bank Building, 1978

The following article, entitled “Big Store No More,” appeared in the Lafayette County Democrat of September 21, 1978, and is reprinted here by permission.  It contains a few minor inaccuracies, but is nevertheless an excellent narrative concerning the building it describes and early Bradley history.  It was written by John A. “Ardis” Manry, who was a resident of Plain Dealing, but had a keen interest in the history of this entire region.  In the later years of his life, his eyesight was quite poor, but it never stopped him from having a cheerful disposition, especially when he could talk about local history.  The photo below is quite grainy because is copied directly from the newspaper.

Big Store No More photo 

By John A. Manry

The tearing down of three old store buildings, brick by brick, is underway and if bricks could tell everything that had happened there since the beginning of this century, and if the land on which it stands could only tell something of its owners since it was bought from the Government before the Civil War, it might go like this:

The name of the buildings have been changed from time to time, depending [on] who owned them.

Records in the courthouse at Lewisville show that the land was bought from the Government by Alexander T. Evans.  Census records kept by the Lafayette County Historical Society show that he and his brother, James K. Evans, both born in Georgia, came here from Alabama with large families, built homes nearby, and both entered the Confederate Army.

Each married daughters of Mr. and Mrs. Elisha Waldrop and were active in the Methodist Church there.  It was in the winter of 1867 [when] they were instrumental in arousing the countryside by preaching that converts came pouring in.

It was a part of the “Great Awakening” prevalent over our country at that time, but descendants of these people living at Bradley still refer to the great awakening at nearby Walnut Hill as that “Christmas meeting.”

The records are not too exact why the Bradley land was sold or lost, but possibly it was lost because of educating so many of the Evans family to the ministry.  Some say eight of the boys became ministers, mostly Methodist, of course, but there was a sprinkling of Baptist, too.

By 1885 Cassius Leigh owned the land.  That year he deeded it to a H. G. Allis, who is believed to have been a land speculator anxious to make a profit.  He sold it to the Southwestern Improvement Association just before the Cotton Belt decided to extend their railroad from Lewisville to Shreveport in 1888.

COMING OF RAILROAD

The Southwestern Improvement Assoc. had played an important part in laying out the town of Galveston, where Lewisville is now, and other towns along the Cotton Belt by selling off lots, making a profit and moving on.

It was 10 years later that the Improvement Association sold this part of land to D. D. Hamiter, a son of John H. Hamiter and a grandson of John Hamiter who had moved to the northern part of Bossier Parish in the 1840’s from Houston County, Georgia.

A glance at the valuation of this land showed that it was tripled in value during the year 1900, indicating that some improvements had been made on the property then.  Sometime later another brick building was built alongside it.

FIRST TELEPHONE HERE

While D. D. Hamiter operated the store he was acting depot agent.  In time his brother Eugene became a partner, and they called their store the Hamiter Brothers Mercantile Company.

Mrs. Aletha Hamiter Barker, now a resident of the Homestead Manor Nursing Home in Stamps, in her “Scrapbook of Roane Township,” writes that “when the telephone system was first organized (1901, in Walnut Hill), there was only one phone in Bradley and it was in Hamiter Bros. store.  Anytime, day or night, a person wanted to call a doctor, or on account of a sudden death or accident, some member of the mercantile company had to get up and go open the store and stay until the necessary call was completed.  Usually, some of the clerks slept in the store for this purpose,” she said.

BRADLEY BECOMES A VILLAGE

By 1905 the residents of Bradley petitioned the County Court to become a village and the streets were laid off into 21 blocks, starting from present-day Highway 29, which was called Express Street, and all but one street running parallel with it were named after parts of a train.  They were Coach Street, Cab Avenue, Pilot Avenue, Pullman Street, and then Woodruff Street, perhaps named for the publisher of the Arkansas Gazette.  Cross streets were numbered from First to Seventh from the Methodist Church on the south, to the present-day Baptist church on the north.

This placed the brick store buildings on the corner of Pilot Avenue and Fourth Street, now known as Highway 160 West.

In 1911 J. B. Burton, Sr., bought the property from the Texarkana National Bank and Olin Longino [began] operating a store there known as Burton and Longino.  Burton’s heirs sold to B. G. Jester and the Jester heirs sold to Richard D. Smith of Bradley.  This year, the building was sold to Lane Pierce, president of the Bank of Bradley.

In the early days the stores all faced the railroad, but the coming of the automobiles cause them to face the highways and such happened to this old store building.

HOUSED POST OFFICE

In 1939 the U. S. Government leased the corner building for a post office.  It remained here until their present post office was built.

FIRST BANK BUILDING

The Bank of Bradley was organized in September of 1912, and the third brick building was built.  A big barbecue was given and this event attracted crowds of hungry visitors, the Democrat reported.

This building came into the news again when it was robbed  by three professional bank robbers escaping with $312, all the money they could find in the open trays on the bank’s counter.  The vault, they could not open.  It became such a bastion in time that Frank M. Cochran, Jr., bought the old vault door as a reminder of how it had withstood the robbers.

Eventually one of the robbers was sentenced to Alcatraz and is said to have offered to return his part of the loot, but it was never received.

It’s gone today.  It will be missed.  It was THE big store in its day and old-timers will never forget how majestically it reared its head through its 78 years of service.  Peace to its brick dust!

Downtown Bradley, late 1950’s

Shown below are four black-and-white photos taken in “downtown” Bradley, apparently in the 1950s.  I don’t know who took these photos, but they were apparently taken on the same roll of film.  The photos are actually copies of copies and, therefore, rather grainy, and one is slightly out of focus.  After each of these photos is a color photo taken from approximately the same location and angle on June 15, 2008.

The first photo is of Fourth Street (Highway 160).  The Coca-Cola sign on the building on the left says “J. M. Drake.”  The building on the left must have been demolished not very many years after this photo was taken.

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The second photo shows a group gathered around a ladder, perhaps, judging from the jackets some are wearing, putting up Christmas lights.  Again, the building in the background must have been demolished not very many years after this photo was taken.

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The third photo shows the view from just east of the railroad depot on Fourth Street/Highway 160, looking west.  It also shows what was then the front entrance to the depot.  The building in the background was demolished in 1978.

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The fourth and last photo shows the building in which George Bell later published the Bradley Pioneer for 16 years.  It was demolished in the mid-1980’s.  The Bradley Public Library was located in the right side of this building for many years.  The sign on the side of the building says, “Jones Plumbing and Electric.”  To the right of that building is Alvin Owens’ barber shop.

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These photos remind me of a book that, as a boy, I spent literally hours poring over at the Bradley Public Library.  It was a large (perhaps 24 inches by 30 inches) scrapbook or photograph album put together by the Bradley B. & P. W. Club.  It contained many, many wonderful photographs of Bradley as it appeared in the 1950s.  I’ve often wondered whatever happened to that scrapbook.  If any of the readers of this site know of its present location, I would be most interested to learn its whereabouts.

 

Lube’s Place, 1970

I received an e-mail from Bryan Whisenhunt, who says that, “One of the things I enjoyed and remember was Mr. Lube Middlebrooks’ place or restaurant….  I remember the old time hamburgers and fries were awesome.”  Everyone who ever ate at Lube’s Place would probably agree.  This is what Lube’s Place looked like in 1970:

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This 35mm slide film has begun to deteriorate.  The Coca-Cola sign says “Lube’s Place” and “Coffee Shop Used Furniture.”  It’s not readily visible from this photo, but there was a horseshoe, for good luck, across the top of the entry door facing.  This building was located on the northwest corner of Block 9.

As I recall, Mr. and Mrs. L. G. “Lube” Middlebrooks had this business for about 10 years, perhaps a little more.  Mrs. Ida was in charge of the cooking and Mr. Lube was in charge of the conversation.  Mrs. Ida passed away in 1979, and Mr. Lube died in 1984.

Shown below is how the building appeared 25 years earlier, on January 24, 1945, near the end of World War II.  I’m not entirely sure of the soldier’s name, so I won’t hazard a guess.

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Below is how the building appeared in 2001, shortly before it was demolished:

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And below is a photo taken from approximately the same place and angle as the 1970 photo earlier today, May 23, 2008:

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The tract is now occupied by the Bradley Fire Department’s building.

Fourth Street, 1910s

Several previous posts have featured photos from Fourth Street (now Highway 160).  The following photo shows a gentleman whose identity is unknown, but who is obviously very well dressed, standing on Fourth Street in the 1910s.  That date is reasonably certain because of the album from which the photo was taken. 

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This photo is roughly contemporary with the photo on the header of this site and with the first photo in the 1/30/08 post which shows two people standing at the south entrance to the railroad depot.  The buildings in the background face the railroad, as did most of the early commercial buildings in Bradley.  It is difficult to discern, but there is no structure at all on the half-block behind the building at left, which would be where Coker Hardware is now located, and upon which a row of several buildings was later built and also demolished.

This photo is an almost 180–degree opposite view of Fourth Street from the photo in the post of 2/11/08.  The tinted photo of the kneeling man and his dog in that post was taken about 20 years later than this photo, however.

This photo is obviously, judging by the man’s shadow, taken in the late morning.  Below is a photo taken from approximately the same place and angle in the late morning of March 22, 2008.

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Edwards Company, circa 1940

Edwards Company was located on the southwest corner of Block 9, for the most part between where the Bradley City Hall is now located and Fourth Street/Highway 160.  At one time, Edwards Company was in the dry goods, grocery, and hardware businesses.  Below is an image of the Edwards Company building, taken about 1940.

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The picture is obviously taken in the late afternoon.  The sign near the top of the building on the left side of the picture says “Westinghouse” and “Edwards Company.”  The sign hanging from the awning in front of the left entrance to the building says “Dry Goods,” and the sign to the middle entrance to the building says “Groceries.”  There is a vertical sign behind the car on the right side of the picture that says “Mansfield Tires.”  The hardware part of the business was located in the right side of the building.  The identity of the woman in the picture is not known, but she appears to be in something of a hurry.

Below is a photo taken from approximately the same place and angle on the afternoon of February 26, 2008.

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Edwards Company, of course, is no longer in business.  I don’t know the dates on which the Dry Goods and Grocery stores ceased business, but did find an old advertisement where the remaining stock of the hardware business was sold at public auction on January 23, 1964.

Cochran Hardware

Sometime in the early 1920’s (probably 1924), Frank Cochran, Sr., resigned his position at Holland Hardware Co. (see the post from October 8, 2007) and decided to go into business for himself.  The following photo shows “Frank M. Cochran Hardware Co.” as it looked about 1928 or 1929.  And, yes, for those of you who are wondering, the boy on the horse is, indeed, Frank M. Cochran, Jr.  A close look at the right-side window pane reveals a gentleman standing inside the building wearing a white or light-colored shirt and a tie.

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The following slightly out-of-focus photo shows Cochran Hardware Co. as it appeared during World War II.

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The sign on the front says “International Harvester Farm Equipment” and “Cochran Hardware Company.”  The two people standing beside the yellow truck are probably Frank Cochran, Sr., and Edith Cochran, a distant relative who worked for him for slightly more than ten years.  The spot in the upper left quadrant of the picture is simply deterioration of the original slide film photo.  The poster just to the right of the blue car is probably some sort of patriotic exhortation, i.e., urging the purchase of war bonds or something similar.  Note that, even though this photograph is taken approximately fifteen years after the first photograph, the street is still unpaved.

Most of this building was demolished in 1964, but the left side one-third still stands today.  The lot on the right of the picture, approximately where the gasoline pump appears, is now occupied by the Walnut Hill Telephone Co. building.

Cochran-Allen Equipment Co.

On March 2, 1945, Frank Cochran, Sr., and J. Madison Allen entered into a partnership for “…the buying, selling and vending of trucks, farm machinery and all sorts of goods and equipment incident to the retail Farm Machine business.”  The firm name of the partnership was Cochran-Allen Equipment Co.  In 1946, the company built this building on the northeast corner of the intersection of Fifth and Pullman streets:

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The partnership was dissolved on April 3, 1948, and Frank Cochran, Sr., as sole proprietor, changed the firm name to Cochran Implement Co.  In 1958, he sold the business to James Roberson of Plain Dealing.

The following picture taken on October 21, 2007, from approximately the same spot, shows what remains of the building today:

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