‘Glass Block’ a Findlay institution

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is another article on Findlay area history adapted from a series written from 1959 to 1974 by the late R.L. Heminger, publisher and editor of The Courier.

 

By R.L. HEMINGER

 

For nearly 30 years, the Glass Block owned by the C.F. Jackson Co., was a Findlay institution which made a substantial and distinctive contribution to the local community’s welfare. From 1905 to the 1930s, the big store, located at the southwest corner of South Main and West Sandusky streets, was serving needs of Findlay and Hancock County, as well as those of a wide area surrounding the county.

The story of the Glass Block has been put together by (the late) Don Smith, 326 Osborn Ave., and from his notes there will be a couple historical articles this month describing the store and the record of its existence, locally.

The site of the store has an interesting background. The first building was erected on the site in 1839-40, a dozen years after Hancock County was organized. It was a two-story frame structure, built by a John McCurdy. Henry Lamb bought the property not long after its erection and opened an inn, named White Hall. Mr. Lamb conducted the inn until March 1849. It burned down a few weeks after the inn closed down. The ground remained unoccupied until the spring of 1854 when a newly formed firm known as the Findlay Joint Stock Hotel Co. purchased the vacant land and erected a three-story brick block, which forms the framework of today’s building which stands on the site. The new building was not completed until the fall of 1856, when it was opened by S.T. Heffner as the Dixon Hotel. It was named for Daniel Dixon, one of the principal stockholders of the hotel company, who was a leading citizen of the community. Then George H. Crook, also a stockholder in the hotel company, took over the lease in 1859. Space was leased to the newly formed First National Bank in 1863 and the financial institution began its long career in this location, adjoining the hotel.

In the spring of 1870, two Carey men who had been operating the Galt Hotel there, A. and D. Joy, came to Findlay and acquired the Crook Hotel, changing the name to the Joy House. It became one of the leading hotels in this part of the state and during the great oil and gas boom starting in the late 1880s. It was a community center of much importance.

Towards the close of the century, the Joys gave up the business and others conducted a hotel for a few years in the location, but not with much success. The large building eventually became vacant and was put on the market by W.E. Snyder, who had become its owner. Mr. Snyder was a prominent Findlay leader who at one time owned a wearing apparel store in what was known as the White Corner just across Court Street from the Courthouse on South Main Street, now belonging to Lester Thomas. Snyder also owned the hotel, which was the predecessor of the Fort Findlay Hotel property of the two Petti brothers.

The C.F. Jackson Co., of which C.F. Jackson was president, owned a large department store in Norwalk and became interested in locating a similar store in Findlay. Mr. Jackson came to Findlay, accompanied by Cleveland architects, examined the property at Main and Sandusky Streets and decided to buy it, paying $57,000. The deed was filed for record here June 15, 1904.

The work of transforming the building for department store purposes started immediately. In October, the north wall of the building along Sandusky Street collapsed. It had been planned to pull it down and replace it, but it went down of its own accord first. The city’s board of public service made a full examination of the improvement plans and found them completely satisfactory.

The Findlay Carriage Co. obtained a contract to build five delivery wagons and one freight vehicle for the new firm. Folk Brothers, cabinet makers, made a quantity of store furniture for the new department store.

“There are about 500 people in Findlay and surrounding towns who are anxiously awaiting the decision of the Jackson Company,” said the Morning Republican on Feb. 8, 1905. “They are applicants for positions at the big store and they will learn their fate by the last of this week or the first of next.”

Seven days later the newspaper said “the Jackson Company big store was lighted up from top to bottom last night and the building presented a brilliant appearance with its extensive window space and the large number of electric lights.” The company planned to manufacture its own electricity on the premises.

“The big sign to grace the front of the C.F. Jackson store has been received,” said the newspaper March 2, 1905. “It required a wagon with a truck attached to the rear to carry the mammoth sign.”

On March 8, 1905, the store opened. The opening was held in the evening of that day. A party of 310 came from Norwalk to join in the opening festivities.

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