Thursday, November 01, 2007

A Fine Old Building on Hopkinsville's Main Street

A brief history of an 1890s commercial building in Hopkinsville, Kentucky

F. A. Yost Building in Hopkinsville, KY

In 1894, a handsome brick building was constructed on the northeast corner of 10th and Main in Hopkinsville. It was originally occupied by The Racket, a firm that advertised itself in period publications simply as "The Big Store."

Years of Yosts

By 1897, according to Meacham's City Directory of Hopkinsville, Kentucky of that year, The Racket had moved. It was in business selling "everything" at 214-216 South Main. F.A. Yost & Co. had opened a harness and saddlery store in the Racket's former location, 207 South Main.

At that time, Forbes & Bro. Hardware & Farm Machinery was the next building south, just across 10th Street. The J. H. Anderson clothing and shoe store was directly across Main Street to the west.

A 1906 photo postcard of this section of Main Street appears in Postcard History Series: Hopkinsville, by William T. Turner and Donna K. Stone (Arcadia Publishing, Charleston SC, 2006.) It shows streets full of buggies and wagons, and sidewalks crowded with shoppers. The ladies and girls are wearing long dresses, and every man, woman and child is wearing a head covering of some sort. The sign on the Yost building reads, "Buggies. F.A. Yost Co."

Soon thereafter, around 1910, the Cayce-Yost partnership was formed. As time went by and business flourished, the Cayce-Yost Hardware Store took over F.A. Yost's saddle and harness shop. The Cayce-Yost Department Store occupied the building just to the north of the hardware store, and the Cayce-Yost Farm Store was located a few doors down the street to the south. A furniture store was located in the upper floors of another nearby building.

In a linen postcard of the 1940s (below,) Cayce Yost Hardware is located in the third building from right. (Note the distinctive round window at the top of the building.) I bought this postcard on eBay. This same card appears in Postcard History Series: Hopkinsville where it is dated "c. 1946."

End of the Cayce-Yost era

The last of the Cayce-Yost stores closed out completely in the early 1990s. We had only recently moved to Hopkinsville. I remember their close-out sale, the only time I was ever in any of the stores.

Apparently the Cayce Yost Hardware Store moved to a different location or closed not long after the picture postcard above was printed. The Kentucky New Era (subscription required) reports that Jim Noland’s Western Auto Store used the building from 1951 to 1980, and Bartholomew's Restaurant was in the building from 1982-1997. Several other restaurants have followed in recent years.

F. A. Yost building, historic district of Hopkinsville, KY

The Yost building today

Currently, a restaurant called "Timmons" is located on the first two floors of the Yost building. In the photo at right, you can see some diners at tables in the lower windows. The ground floor could be called a basement, I suppose. It's a couple of steps down from street level. The first floor is a few steps up.

The second floor has a banquet room, and the proprietors of the Timmons establishment, David and Michelle Norris, live on the top floor of the building.

The building has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1979. Before the Timmons opened, a good deal of maintenance was done on the building, including replacement of all the windows on the 10th Street side of the building (all those you see in the photo at the top of this post.) Thank you, Mr. and Mrs. Norris, for doing that.


Mark said...

It's a real shame that most people, especially the chamber of commerce types, haven't recognized the value of these old buildings until recently. My hometown of Rome, Georgia, had many buildings of this vintage. Sometime after WW II many business owners decided it would be a good idea to modernize their buildings. So they destroyed the old street-front facades and replaced them with "modern" faces, like sheet metal and plate glass. I guess at least half the buildings have suffered this fate.

One interesting point about downtown Rome is that the entire Broad Street business district used to be at flood plain level, and at some point in the past the street was raised one storey. That means some of the original street-front faces of the buildings are now below street level.

Genevieve said...

Hi, Mark. That's very interesting about Rome, Georgia. I have never visited there, but its name has always intrigued me.

Some of our old buildings in Hopkinsville's downtown have the ugly 1950s/60s facades also. One of the law firms bought an old building and removed the aluminum and glass facade that had been added to it in the 1960s. Now its 1909 stone front is revealed again. The law firm received tax credits for the restoration, but had to follow guidelines very carefully to get them.

I hope Hopkinsville is beginning to realize that a preserved historic downtown has some economic potential. Meanwhile, though, some buildings continue to decline. It's sad to see.

Mourningdove's Serendipity said...

I've heard about Rome. My neighbor is from there and goes back all the time. Genevieve, I like your new cleaner, simplified header!

Genevieve said...

Thanks. :) The scene in the photo is actually very near our home.

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