Maplewood History: A Couple of Surprising Discoveries About the Scheidt Hardware Building

If you are not buying everything you can from Scheidt Hardware…well, why the heck not? It is located in one of our best historic buildings.  It has been continuously in business for 115 years, 104 in its current location at 7320 Manchester.  It is a rare survivor.  Nearly all of the neighborhood hardware stores have fallen to the big box ones.  We are very lucky to still have it.

I usually park around back to avoid the traffic on Manchester but you can quite often park almost directly in front of the store and be maybe 50 feet away from the object/s you desire.  As for desirable objects, they have very many.  The interior of the store is very clean, well-lighted and a masterpiece of efficient packaging of the very large inventory of goods that they offer.

I am familiar with a few of the objections some customers had in the past.  Specifically tobacco smoke and a radio playing a program that a few of us didn’t agree with.  But that was a long time ago.  The new owners, Ben Reynolds and George McCandliss and family, are unfailingly cheerful and accommodating. You owe them your patronage while at the same time you are helping to preserve one of our finest examples of early Maplewood architecture.

Speaking of early Maplewood architecture I imagine that most followers of this space know by now what function the Scheidt building served when it was first completed.  Or perhaps you have read the plaque in the sidewalk in front of the building.  For those of you who don’t know and haven’t read my text on that plaque, it was the first location of the Maplewood Theater.

I have had in my file that the building was built in 1910.  I don’t know where I got that information but it is incorrect.  Also it may not have been called the Maplewood Theater in the beginning.  I was able to add a bit more to this story with the help of my subscription to Newspapers.com.  Read on.

Rosa and Emil L. Scheidt in front of the first location of their hardware store at 7275-77 Manchester. R.C. Wohlwend, Rosa’s brother, had owned a hardware store at Broadway and Chippewa.  Judging from the window, I’d guess that he and Emil were partners in this venture.  The information that Mary Piles uncovered presented in my previous post, Emil Scheidt and his Hardware Store pushes back the opening date of the business previously believed to have been 1907 to 1905.  Even better.

The back of the first image. I interpret this to mean that their son, Emil C., was born in 1907.

Studio shots of Emil and Rosa, no dates provided.

Emil and Rosa with their child, Emil C. who was born upstairs. The date of this image is 1909.  The child was born in 1907, I surmise.  Pretty nice looking rig.  The hardware business must have been doing very well.

No date on this one. Still at the 7277 Manchester address. What happened to R. C. Wohlwend? The building was lost during the ill-fated redevelopment effort in the 1970s.  Jessica Ernst is the kind soul who let me copy all of these prior fascinating images.

The 1909 Boos Directory at the Headquarters Branch of the STL County Library lists a flock of Scheidts.

The Maplewood Directory of 1912 records them as living above the store. Doesn’t mention the child, Emil C., for whatever reason.

In 1916, Emil L. Scheidt bought this building and converted it into his hardware store. Previously it had housed the Maplewood Theater.  As you can see it is a beautiful building.  I took this photo in 2008.  If you’ve never taken a close look at it, you owe it to yourself to do so…inside and out.  While you’re there buy something.  You’ll be back.

The shield. Look closely and you can see the tool marks that the clay sculptor left.

A detail of the superb terra cotta cornice.

Cornucopias. These are examples of terra cotta ornament of a high order.

After hours at Scheidt Hardware. See what you’ve been missing.  I took this photo during the third Let Them Eat Art event in 2009.

Rosa and Emil in their new location in 1909.  Courtesy of Bob Scheidt, son of Emil C. and grandson of Emil L. Bob ran the family business from sometime in the 1970s until just a couple of years ago.  Maybe someone out there will help me pin down those years.  He was ably assisted by Roger McCreight, Larry Williams, Eileen Lenz and others whose names are obscured by the fog of time.  Now here comes the exciting new discoveries.

In 1909, one year earlier than the building was previously thought to have been built, the theater was called The Maplewood Odeon.  Now this might not seem like much to you but it does to me.  It is the thrill of the hunt.  I was stunned to find this.  It shattered something that I thought was set in concrete, the 1910 construction date and the name of the theater.  Good ol’ Newspapers.com.  BTW: An odeon in ancient Greece and Rome was a building built for singing, musical shows and poetry competitions.

This article ran in the St. Louis Globe-Democrat on June 14, 1911. So by 1911 the theater name had been changed from Odeon to Maplewood.

By 1915, it was called the Maplewood Lyric Theater.

Sometime in early 1915 the theater reopened with the Lyric name. From the Maplewood News-Champion.

But by the end of July the name had reverted back to the Maplewood theater. Also from the Maplewood News-Champion.  This must have been a tough business to get going is all I can figure.  In 1916, Emil Scheidt bought the building and converted into his hardware store.

The biggest problem in the conversion from theater to retail store was the sloping floor. To level the floor it was necessary to saw off all of the floor joists where they entered the exterior walls. Then the entire floor had to be raised by jacks until it was level. At that point, a new system of posts and beams was built to secure the joists in their new position. In this image the ends of the original joists are visible below the new (green) beam.

Another big change was necessary as well. The theater facade had to be remodeled to a plan suitable for a retail establishment in 1916. That remodel can be seen in this image. The booth (or whatever) for the ticket seller was removed. The front entrance was moved back 20 feet into the building. This allowed the mostly all walk-in customer traffic to be lured in by the very large display windows. Additionally, Emil wasn’t certain that his hardware business could support such a large building. So the remodel included entrances for two stores in case his business needed to downsize and lease the other half of the store to a different business.

The architect chosen to handle the remodel was the very well known T.R. Barnett. His wife was a friend of Rosa’s or so the story goes. This document is a relic from our short-lived Maplewood Historical Society, 2002 -2006. I don’t recall who prepared it. Bob Scheidt was planning to remodel the facade again. We wanted to make sure he knew what he was doing.  He did.  He also did a nice job.  The new doors are beautiful and have been working very well for quite awhile now.  Former Councilman Tim Dunn, the nation’s only Vitrolite specialist, did an outstanding job installing his specialty below the new front windows. Upon entering the building, look up.  On the ceiling the position of T.R.’s storefront is still visible.

Bob Scheidt, Roger McCreight and Shannon Hill in the year 2000.  I believe the occasion was Easter.  Whatever happened to Shannon Hill?  Shannon, if you’re out there somewhere and chance upon this, send us a sign. Courtesy of the Maplewood Public Library.

Larry Williams working on what must be one of the thousands of screens he repaired during his time at Scheidt Hardware.  He did a good job too.  Not only with the screens, he was a notable hardwarian.  I haven’t seen Larry for quite awhile.  Sure hope he is doing OK.

One half of the new ownership, Ben Reynolds, waits on a customer whose name I neglected to get.

The other half of the new ownership, George McCandliss (who is much friendlier than he looks here) takes care of some paperwork on the screen repairing table.  These folks are our neighbors.  They are seriously nice people.  Familiarize yourself with their inventory.  Most likely they’ll have what you need.  The big box stores don’t care about you.  These folks do.

 

You can get a copy of my Maplewood History Volume Two book with a softcover for $35 at Scheidt Hardware. The ginkgo leaves are a bare-faced attempt to make everyone aware of one of our landmark trees at 7380 Flora.  The story is in the book.  Ginkgos can live for a thousand years.  Every year my wife, myself and others try to catch this one when it drops it leaves.  It is a beautiful sight.  It should be happening soon.

Or for $50 you can get a collector’s edition, hardcover copy of my book. Same inside but with a commemorative Scheidt Hardware dust jacket over a green linen binding with a custom gold stamping of the title on the spine.  Believe me I know all about this.  The art work on both covers is mine.  The background on this dust jacket is the 111 year old floor at the store.  The round bricks on the corner of the building are reproduced on the spine.

 

As always I appreciate everyone who supports and contributes to or just reads this site.  We are all at a critical juncture now.  I truly hope a change is gonna come.

Stay safe. Wear your mask.  “Til next time.

Doug Houser          October 21, 2020

 

 

 

 

 

18 thoughts on “Maplewood History: A Couple of Surprising Discoveries About the Scheidt Hardware Building

  1. Doug, The only time Pop had a mustache was in 1958, the 50th anniversary of Maplewood. He grew a mustache and goatee. All the businessmen had to grow a beard and/or mustache or pay a “fine” for not doing so. I believe there was a “best beard” contest among the businessmen. Bob and our Grandfather, and Roger had beards/mustaches.

    • Well, whatever the reason I’m all for it. You’d think those beards and handlebar mustaches would be dangerous around all of that hardware store stuff like the key grinder and especially the paint can shaker. I don’t even want to think about that.

  2. looking back at the pictures it seems the Scheidt men who worked at the store all had mustaches. I don’t remember Bob’s dad having one the few times I met him but maybe he did. I see 3 generations of men having the mustaches.

    • You are very observant, Mark. That hadn’t occurred to me. Personally I’m in favor of mustaches. I believe you probably are as well.

  3. Thanks, Doug and Mary….so much fun reading about so many things, even I can remember too….My grandparents had a house at 2037 Bland, and my dad grew up there. My mom grew up in Richmond Heights…both graduated from Maplewood High School…My dad, I believe in Jan of 1939…and they married after my Dad graduated in Jan. The following Sept. I was born…and my grandmother found out they had not married in the church, so they were remarried in November, 1939.

  4. Hi Doug, I think that you know I’m a big fan of Scheidt Hardware, and for that matter every old hardware store. Not so long ago we lost Lehman’s and more recently Oak Hill Hardware stores. There are fewer and fewer folks who proudly say, “that’s my hardware store”. The big boxes can never duplicate the wonderful smells, aura and visual effects of these old stores that helped keep our homes and lives patched together. I remember Bob Scheidt telling me Mr. Barnett, the architect did not take on small jobs, but because of his wife’s friendship with Mrs. Scheidt he recanted that position, taking on the design of the building remodeling.

    • I agree with everything you said, Gary. Folks who have not been shopping there need to start. I go there first. If for some reason they don’t have what I need, then I go to a big box store. But it is surprising how often they have a good quality product that satisfies my need or want. Not long ago I bought their biggest fan. We made a joke that one of their biggest fan bought one of their biggest fans. The fan works great by the way.

  5. Thank you Doug. As always so well done! Will get to the store for a copy of your book! Grateful for all you have done!!

  6. I am the unknown customer, Chuck Hardy. My family has lived in Maplewood for 26 years now, longer than some, I guess, not nearly as long as some of the others of whom you write.

    • Well, you are unknown no longer, Chuck. Thanks for weighing in. 26 years, hmmm, you’re getting established. I’ve been here for 45 and to some folks I’m still a new guy.

  7. Great article about the store. I found it interesting to see a list of the acts that would be playing at the theater. I also found it interesting that we have not always had as much education as we do today. It still surprises me to hear about folks who could not read and write only 100 years or so ago. How they made it in life I cannot fathom.

    Looks like you have a few more things to track down. Of the list of graduates I wonder how many still have family in Maplewood. Or how many of the buildings that the famous architect are still out there. I had no idea we had such a connection as this. I have always liked the building and actually so much of that block of Maplewood. I know many detested the K Mart garage but it’s height did give you an entirely different view of the buildings. My family would sometimes just look over the edge of the upper level and you could see the buildings so much better than when you were driving down the street in your car.

    • Hey Mark, that elevated view of the south side of the 7300 block of Manchester may have been the only good thing about the K Mart complex. I took a few photos from up there as well. Thanks for your comment.

  8. Thanks, Doug. I pass this store daily at least once when walking my dog, Henry. He loves chatting up all of the retail folks, and these two guys are great…always friendly and very helpful. We strongly support your recommendation to shop there!