We are fortunate here in Grove City to have a beautiful and robust downtown shopping district.
We call it “Olde Town Grove City.”
But did you know that it is not the first? When Grove City was a developing town in the 1800s, it had a very prosperous downtown.
Recently, I took responsibility for a renovation of the Grove City Area Historical Society and Museum’s Business Room, which involved a much-needed cleaning and reorganization, but it became much more than a “clean-up and clean-out.”
It became a walk down memory lane and a look into the history of Grove City’s thriving 19th century business district.
For example, Mr. I.C. Black and his sons owned not only a book store, but also a furniture store and space for funerals because Mr. Black was also an undertaker.
Not to be outdone, Mr. Forquer opened a competing book store, and owned a haberdashery in the same building. At the historical society and museum, we can show you the tape machine he used to secure packages from customers’ purchases.
When Broad Street was still a dirt road, Mr. M.A. Young operated Young’s Bargain Store. Would this be the Dollar General of the 1800s?
Meat could be purchased on that same dirt-covered Broad Street at J.R. Davidson Meat Market, which used a lot of ice.
We all remember the Penn Grove Hotel and the Traveler’s Hotel (present-day location of the historical society). But its forerunner was the Filer House, a popular boarding house in the 1800s. Mr. W.A Young, possibly a relative to M.A. Young, operated the Leather & Harness Shop.
The historical society and museum’s business room holds evidence of a McKay Carriage Company, Boyd & Son Forge, and the photographers’ Vasbinder and Daugherty. Later in the century, we know of the photographers Webb, Geisman, Town & Country, and Curry.
When visitors shopped at Grove City in the 1900s, they often dined at the E. Davidson Café & Lunch Counter before returning home.
If you needed eyeglasses, you may have made an appointment with Dr. Lewis, Dr. Allison, Dr. Black, or Dr. Rossman over the years. We have samples of product from their businesses.
Dunlaps and Cleppers operated competing meat markets in the 1900s, with Jay Gregg Grocery on a side street.
On the business room’s second floor, visitors will see displays of memorabilia from the 10 dairies that operated around Grove City. Most people remember only Campbell’s and Youngs, but Grove City residents also supported Rolling Acres, J.C. Dunwoody Dairy, Clover Crest Dairy, Gabriel & Amanda Hartwick Dairy, H.C. Hodil Cold Spring Dairy, Lone Pine Dairy, and Lewis Dairy.
Those who didn’t have a store outlet at their farm brought their milk to be processed at the Grove City Creamery. Sealtest, Bordon, and Isaly’s also distributed locally in the 1900s.
How many of these names do you remember? Twin Kiss, Candyland, Burger Chef, Isaly’s, Book & Davis Company, Dick’s Tog Shop, Palmer Smith, The Grove City Store (a three-floor department store in downtown Grove City), Guthrie Shoes, King’s Shoe Store, G.W. DeFrance Drug Store, P. Wall Manufacturing, and G.C. Murphy’s.
Visitors can go to the business room and those companies’ memorabilia as well as that of hundreds of other businesses that once flourished in Grove City.
The Grove City Area Historical Society and Museum, 111 College Ave., Grove City, is open noon to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday through mid-December. For more information, call 724-458-1798, visit www.grovecityhistoricalsociety.org or check out its Facebook page.