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BY MIKE AVITT
140 years ago the Mount Ayr business district was dotted with livery barns.
These facilities provided feed and care for horses while the rider was in town for business or visiting others. Livery barns also provided horses and buggies for rent; a service often used by local doctors. Stagecoach and hack lines were regular customers. Those are all gone now…….except one.
In the mid-1880s Frank Ellis had a hotel where Lefty’s Club Tavern is today. There was a livery barn in connection with the hotel located at 119-121 E. Madison, or one-half block east.
Frank’s hotel burned in 1889 but the buildings to the east were saved by the alley. Mr. Ellis sold his livery to John Miller of Beaconsfield in 1891.
White Bros. bought the barn in February 1893 and then sold it to John Dunlop in June 1895. At some point Hardin Middlesworth became the owner of the firm and named it the Lone Star Livery Barn.
But, as time went on, the need for livery barns diminished.
In October 1922 Mr. Middlesworth converted his livery barn into a sales pavilion.
In 1923 Middlesworth took on a partner, Colonel N. V. Tyrrel, and the business expanded into an auto livery and feed store. This seems to have been a short-lived venture.
In November 1931 the barn was again fitted for a sales pavilion and on December 3, 1931 the first sale was held with W. P. Turner as auctioneer, William Thomas Timby as clerk, and J. W. McFarland as manager.
80 head of cattle and 120 hogs were sold along with other farm-related items.
In March 1935 Guy and Mabel McCullough bought the property.
Work began immediately and by November of that year the old livery barn had been converted into apartments and offices.
The McCulloughs dealt in farm machinery, grain, trucking, coal, and wool. I don’t know where their previous office and lots were located.
So, while I don’t know when the building at 119-121 E. Madison was built, it does appear on an 1886 plat map as a livery barn.
Another thing I learned while researching this subject concerns the addition built for Billie Finch at 115 E. Madison.
Billie moved to the building in 1938 and soon had an addition 40 by 50 feet built to the rear (south) of his produce house. The land for this addition was purchased from Guy and Mabel McCullough. The building at 115 E. Madison was built in 1916 by Frank Chance.
I have no information about the building between the livery barn and the produce house. The newspaper does not give details about the reconstruction of the livery barn or the building at 117 E. Madison.
A 1919 plat map shows an empty lot at 117 E. Madison. So maybe it was built by the McCulloughs, too.