Letters. I get letters. Well, mostly I get emails and texts but I do occasionally get a letter as well. Recently I heard from my old friend and fellow Maplewood history aficionado, Tom Bakersmith by email. Tom had this to say.
Hi Doug, As I think you know, I am interested in the old “Ghost Signs”. One’s painted on building walls years ago. There are quite a few in Maplewood. This one is on the Sutton side of the building that houses Rich’s Hair Salon and Tiffany’s Diner. I can make out NAILS TOOLS CUTLERY. at the top. I wonder what hardware store it was. Was it in that building? Tom Bakersmith
I decided to do a little investigating of Tom’s ghost sign. Let’s have a look at what I found.
This building, 7400-02 Manchester, has the ghost sign that Tom mentioned, on its eastern side. This image was captured in 2010.
Here is the eastern side of the same building in 2012. As Tom stated a few of the words of the ghost sign are easily read, Nails, Tools, and Cutlery.
Searching Newspapers.com for 7400 Manchester, the earliest mention I found was in 1914. I don’t believe Wilson’s Garage was located exactly at 7400 Manchester. I think the address was used because once you got there you’d be close enough to find it. I found a couple of our theaters did this same sort of rounding off of their addresses.
Warring Furniture was there in 1915.
This ad has nothing to do with Maplewood. It was located on the same page as the one from Warring Furniture. I found it interesting. Hope you do as well.
In 1920, Warring was still advertising their address as 7400.
They were still there in 1923.
This 1927 ad indicates that, John Warring, son of the founder, Edward, is now in charge and they had moved their business into their own new building at 7422 Manchester. Many Maplewoodians will recognize the apartment building shown at 7387 Maple. It looks much the same today as it did in 1927 when it was brand new. The advertisement for Vitrolite is coincidental because no one then could have known that Maplewood would be the longtime home of Tim Dunn, Vitrolite master, and the only person still installing it in the country. Tim was a Maplewood councilman for several decades.
In July of 1926, the Marshall Theater gives its address as 7400 Manchester. This is an example of what I mentioned earlier. The Marshall Theater was not located at 7400 Manchester. It was in the next building to the west.
By October, the Marshall has apparently been renamed the Sutton Theater.
This article placed in December also has the new name. But by 1929 the name had been changed again. This time to the last name this theater would ever have, the Majestic, about which I once made an exciting discovery. You can read about that here.
Minges Furniture gives 7400 Manchester as it’s location in April of 1935.
Close up from the previous image.
In May of 1935, Rector’s Inc., had leased a storeroom and the entire basement to sell liquor.
By December of the same year, they were advertising to hire a blues singer. Who said we weren’t cool? I’d love to know who they hired.
In 1937, four Maplewood men, tavern owners and sellers of liquor, sued the local meddlers in power to prevent them from stopping the dealers from selling liquor on Sundays. I think we know how this came out. One of these men was Johnny Ryan.
By 1942 who should show up at 7400 Manchester? The aforementioned Johnny Ryan. Some of the older members of the community remember his fine establishment.
You may recall that we have been looking for a hardware store to satisfy Tom Bakersmith’s insatiable demand for details of the history of our fair city. Well, Tom, I didn’t find it. I was getting haircuts at Ragsdale’s at that address back in the 1970’s. A member of that family, Rich, still owns the place. If there had been a hardware store at that location sometime between 1942 and the 1970’s I’m fairly certain someone would remember it.
Perhaps the hardware store was at 7402 Manchester, you may be thinking. I didn’t find one there, either. But I did find…
The Maplewood Screen Company which apparently went out of business in 1913.
Sears in 1952. Older Maplewoodians will remember the Sears store when it was in the building just west of this one we’ve been examining.
And Katz Drug Store! Who would have ever thought it? We all know Katz Drug Store was across the street, right on the corner at 7401 Manchester. Go figure.
Some of the more alert of you may by now be wondering whatever became of the Warring Furniture Company? Keep reading.
Sometime before 1927, the Warrings built themselves this very nice building at 7422 Manchester. Three story buildings are rare in Maplewood.
The outside is adorned with much terra cotta and even the family name. This building was an elegant showplace for their furniture business.
A lot can be learned from the obits. In 1949, Minnie Warring passed. Her husband, Edward had died in 1927. He only got to enjoy his new building for a few years.
Interesting. John Warring’s mama died in July of 1949. By October of that year he had sold the company and retired. He would live just a little longer than one year in retirement. Not fair, is it?
I never did find that hardware store. Sorry, Tom. My guess is that the ghost sign was advertising a store that was nearby just not in the building at 7400-02 Manchester or maybe we just ain’t found it yet?
I continue to enjoy my favorite season…summer. But I have to admit, heatophile that I am, 100 degrees is too much of a good thing. I hope to see you at the pool.
Doug Houser July 29, 2022
Here is the image that George mentioned in the comments section. Charlie Wilson’s hardware was just catty-corner across the street from the ghost sign. Was there a connection? Who knows?