Wednesday, April 15, 2009

History of North Fork Hardware

The historic brick and mortar, 2500 square foot vaulted roof building, presently housing North Fork Hardware, was built in 1948 by Dot & Jack Griffin.

The vaulted, full dimension roof beams can be seen in the attic above the store and were likely milled at the local North Fork lumber mill.

A newly developed brick, called “puma stone”, was used in the construction, and was manufactured in Friant. The same brick was also used to construct the Sierra Video store building across the street owned by the Betty Family. Several local North Fork masons and laborers were hired to construct these buildings.

From time to time, Old Timers shopping at North Fork Hardware have claimed that they actually had laid the brick and mortar on the building. There is a Lincoln penny, dated 1952, glued into the grout line on the left side of the store front apparently by one of those brick masons. It was revealed only recently where the penny was located by a granddaughter of one of the masons, and sure enough, after removing several layers of paint, the 1952 copper penny reappeared.

The store, never the less, was built in 1948, so the date differences remain a mystery. Daylight still peeks occasionally through the aged mortar. Substantial cement piers were poured in the basement several years ago to reinforce the brick walls.

The building was the first major commercial structure of its size in North Fork. Smaller adjacent buildings, now called the Looney Bin, owned by Ann Bredon, and the American Claims Service building were built several years later. All records indicate a hardware store business has always occupied the building. Thanks to the memory of Florence Hoskins, Randy Cohlan, and Ginny Smith of the North Fork History Group, much of the historical information has been recovered for history buffs.

A gap remains between the 1948 construction date and the historical information presented. We are still gathering data, stay tuned.

1959-1979 Hoskins Hardware - Florence & Linn Hoskins were the proprietors.

The north side of the building was partitioned for Wenham’s Drug Store, which later moved next door to what is now the American Claims Service building. The drug store side of the building, then empty, was converted to a fully functional laundry facility. The Hoskins not only ran the hardware store, but also did camp laundry for the High Sierra camp grounds, and it became a booming, lucrative business until water problems required the business to be shut down.

1975-1979 North Fork Ace Hardware - Karen & Ray Harvick owned and operated the store as proprietors.

1979-1991 North Fork Ace Hardware - The building and business were purchased from the Harvick’s by Bob and Loretta Mckee, transplants from southern California. The McKees, honored as the 2006 Logger’s Jamboree Grand Marshals, built the business up during the heydays of a booming lumber mill until 1991, when they sold the hardware business to their son, Robert McKee (Bob).

Bob McKee owns and operates North Fork Hardware to this day. Classic old black and white photographs of Wenham’s Drug Store and the original hardware store building can be seen displayed on the walls inside North Fork Hardware.

© Copyright 2009 North Fork Hardware News

1 comment:

Farmer Jen said...

Truly a valuable piece of local history. Functioning as a small town General Store, this building is definitely an important part of our downtown landscape.