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BY MIKE AVITT
I took this week’s photo while Keith Adams still had his barber shop in the north end. Keith’s Barber Shop closed about the first of February 2008.
The Kellerton IOOF Hall stands where the St. Joe Hotel once stood. In my early research, I thought St. Joe Hotel was another name for the Foley Hotel, but the St. Joe Hotel was across the street east of the Foley (aka McDonald) Hotel. The St. Joe Hotel was only about 20 years old when it was torn down to make way for the new brick.
J. A. Woollums began tearing down the St. Joe Hotel in August 1901 and construction on the new building began in October of the same year. Jenkens Brothers of Leon were hired to do the brick work and they were finished by early December. The interior would be completed by mid-January 1902.
The building is 85 feet, long, 50 feet wide, and 32 feet high. Kirby Shott was the first barber to occupy the shop on the north end.
The Kellerton Odd Fellows would occupy the north half of the upstairs while the Modern Woodmen of America (MWA) would occupy the upstairs in the south half. The MWA was very popular at this time and was similar to a fraternal organization but are classified as a “benefit society.” It was common for the Independent Order of Odd Fellows to erect brick buildings and rent out the downstairs.
The first occupant of the north half downstairs was J. P Ambrosier with his grocery, clothing, and dry goods business. Upon the opening of his business, Mr. Ambrosier took on a partner in the person of Ben Foley. Ben’s father Tim Foley would buy the McDonald Hotel in December 1903.
The first business in the south half downstairs was the firm of V. L. Bedier & Company, a drug store. Upon opening, Miss Eugenie Bedier bought Dr. J. W. Greenman’s interest in the business. The building still stands today.
Another brick building was constructed on Decatur Street in 1901 that is also still standing today – the Ringgold County Savings Bank office. The brick is 22 feet by 48 feet and once housed the Kellerton Post Office.
The Kellerton Bank building, a block south of the Odd Fellows building, was built in 1893 with brick fired at the Kellerton Brick & Tile Works. It still stands today but all three are vacant. We can’t save every building, but we can record their history through photographs and documentation.
Some of the photos I use were taken 40, 80, or 120 years ago. The least I can do is take pictures for future generations to use. If you have pictures or information to share with me, I would appreciate it.