Niagara Gazette

Columns

March 15, 2010

NORMA HIGGS: Back to the corner of Main and Pine

I received a call from friend Tweezer Brown and as we talked about last week’s story, he made me realize I should have gone down Main Street a little way, as there are interesting things to write about that section.

He was right, so this week we are going back to that corner to check out some history. At 635 Main Street, during 1956, Oscar Bell owned the building now known as Williamson Funeral Home and it was the Bell Funeral Home. Oscar and his wife Leuell lived upstairs. Next door at 639 Main is the First Unitarian Church and Carl Slenk had done some research on this structure and found an interesting quote as follows: “Work on the excavation for the new building was started on July 20, 1921, and proceeded with difficulty because it was solid rock. The rock, however, broken up into the proper sizes, on the recommendation of the (building) committee, served as the rubble exterior with which the outside of the building is faced.”

Carl and Liz Slenk operated the Manchester House Bed and Breakfast at 653 Main for many years and have since retired. They are great volunteers for various beautification projects and spent lots of hours painting the fence along Whirlpool Street last summer and fall. They always sign up for the Beautify Niagara citywide cleanup, which I will be writing about soon as it is scheduled for April 24. Dr. Irwin Walker lived in their house in 1956 and owned several properties behind it on Sixth Street during this period.

The next building at 659 Main owned by Wright and Kremers, Contractors, occupied the entire southeast corner at Main and Pine. Stine’s Drug Store was a major tenant and James Hill was the manager here. His wife Amy operated the Stine’s corset shop around the corner on Pine in the same building. A prominent dentist, Archie Butler had offices here but the best-known occupant had to be Frank P. Johnson who ran a grocery business at this location and also had a liquor store at 529 Third. Johnson delivered to just about everyone in the Lewiston Heights area and the Jefferson Apartments. Grocery orders were taken by telephone and he offered same day delivery service, which was very popular and lucrative for him. He lived nearby at 722 Cedar Ave.

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