The huge fire that taxed the firefighting resources of as many as six communities and destroyed the former J.T. Evans Coal and Lumber Building in 1979 closed the final chapter on a structure which had been a Main Street landmark since the late 19th century.
The J.T. Evans coal and lumber business had its origin sometime during the late 1800s as one of four locations of the I. W. Heulings’ Sons Lumber and Coal Dealers, later becoming A. C. Heulings & Bros. Lumber and Coal, changing ownership around 1900 to Riverton carpenter and builder Samuel Rudderow, who finally sold it to Mr. Evans in 1905. In its last days the property may be best remembered as the original site of The New Leaf plant shop run by Will Ann and Ray Szulczewski.
These details from Sanborn Insurance maps show just how much Main Street real estate the J.T. Evans complex encompassed. (Note the railroad track on concrete piers that appears in the 1919 map which figures in photo #041.)
The Printing Shop indicated on the 1919 map at 607 Main Street was once the location of The New Era newspaper, now Freddy’s Shoe Repair. I thank Mr. Fred DeVece every time I refer to my treasured copy of the 1909 New Era Christmas issue which he gave me several years ago when I was teaching history at RPS.
Case in point: Image #005 is a clipping from the “About Our Advertisers” page of the 1909 Christmas New Era gives a short history of the J.T. Evans enterprise, which at that point, was just four years old. “Thank you again, Freddy.” (Read more details about the 1909 New Era Christmas issue in Part One and Part Two.)
This early undated postcard from the Paul W. Schopp Collection shows the frame construction of the original building that lay underneath the red brick veneer that Joseph Evans added in 1937.
An email from Mrs. Mary Yearly Flanagan with an invitation to view her grandfather’s photo album inspired this post about the Evans Building. Given the scarcity of picture postcards of that structure, the following scans made from the personal photographs of Joseph F. Yearly may be the best record we have of that establishment. Like the long gone Lyceum, the Lawn House, and the grandstand of the Riverton Athletic Association’s bicycle track, it is another part of life from Riverton’s yesteryears.
HSR member Mrs. Mary Yearly Flanagan, granddaughter of Joseph F. Yearly, has very generously provided these images for the enjoyment of our readers. She writes, “At least now, some of his photos are being shared – and that makes me feel good. I passionately believe that old photos of historic significance should be shared & not just sit in someone’s attic – or worse.”
Future posts from the Joseph F. Yearly photo album will include more unique views of Dreer’s, Irish Row, and the riverbank — views which the tourists’ picture postcards missed.
My understanding about a person or a thing from Riverton’s past frequently emerges slowly as I gather bits and snippets of facts and information, often with the help of whomever else I can manage to enlist in my investigation. Joseph F. Yearly’s photographs, Mr. DeVece’s New Era issues, items from the Paul W. Schopp Collection, recollections of Mary Flanagan and her cousin, Joseph B. Yearly, and my own research have contributed to this article. As this examination is far from complete, you are invited to elaborate upon this essay.
Readers, please leave a comment with a memory, a question, or even a correction about this post. If you have a related item such as a bill, product package, sign, advertisement, photo, or a scan of an item, that you wish to add to this growing archive, please contact us. – John McCormick, Gaslight News editor
P.S. 2/14/2012 Many thanks to reader Jerry Mooney for finding the caption error on photo #041 runaway railroad car. It is indeed a photo of the Collins Bldg., also no longer. If any reader can send more details on the Collins Building or that incident, please contact us. – JMc