The corner at Main and Bell Streets in Shawnee was a hotbed for commerce. 101 East Main was home to several retail stores. With the Mammoth building to the west, this section of historic downtown attracted shoppers since the early days of Shawnee.

The corner at Main and Bell Streets in Shawnee was a hotbed for commerce. 101 East Main was home to several retail stores. With the Mammoth building to the west, this section of historic downtown attracted shoppers since the early days of Shawnee.

Lot 12...

The Choctaw, Oklahoma and Gulf Railroad sold lot 12 to the State Bank of Shawnee for $300 on Sept. 11, 1895. The Ferd Heim Brewing Company, of Kansas City, Missouri, purchased lot 12 for $3,000 on Jan. 4, 1899.

Like many businesses in Shawnee's historic downtown, lot 12 on block 27 started off as a saloon.

The first establishment to call the corner of Main and Bell home was the Arkansas Club Saloon.

With the Arkansas Club came a little controversy. The proprietors, William J. Watson and C.C. Wells were successful at first, but by 1905 found themselves in significant debt, resulting in the two men filing bankruptcy.

The June 16, 1905 edition of the Shawnee News reported Watson and Wells filed bankruptcy on May 3, 1905.

When the Arkansas Club closed down in 1904, the building was then condemned by the city of Shawnee.

The May 17, 1905 edition of the Shawnee News reported that a city councilman requested that no more licenses be given to anyone wanting to business at that location.

In 1905, the Ferd Heim Brewing Company was making plans to build a new three-story brick structure. The city of Shawnee was in a hurry to demolish the condemned building but Ferd Heim's legal council filed an injunction with the city, preventing the city of Shawnee from taking any further action.

After several court hearings, a fire on August 24, 1905 burned the building to ashes.

The Shawnee News reported, “The fire in the Arkansas Club was discovered about 3 a.m. today by a gentleman passing near on the Bell Street side. He ran to the fire station a half block away...A great crowd of people gathered to watch the old pile, which played an important part in Shawnee's early history, turn to ashes.”

The Shawnee News reported that no other buildings were a victim of the fire, but the exterior of the building to the east, the Burke Grocery Co., was scorched.

On Sept. 9, 1905, the Shawnee News reported, James A. Findlay, traveling auditor for the Ferd Heim Brewing Co., came to Shawnee to look after the insurance claim on the property.

“The insurance will probably be adjusted on both building and stock next week, and immediately the ground will be cleared and a fine new building will be erected in the place of the old structure, which has so long been an eyesore,” The Shawnee News reported.

A few days later, on Sept. 21, 1905, the Shawnee News reported the Ferd Heim Brewing Co. already had an architect from Kansas City working on drafting plans for a new building.

Ferd Heim was unsuccessful bringing their dream building, and a single story structure replaced the old decrepit Arkansas Club. According to research done by Johnny Kneisel, the Era Airdome Theatre, managed by B.E. Whittington, called the corner of Main and Bell home in 1909. Seating capacity at the theater was 400.

The theater lasted one year and it was replaced by George E. Strayer's Shoe Department. According to advertisements in various newspapers of 1910, Strayer's offered the latest footwear for men, women and children.

Strayer's lasted until 1913 and the Mahedy-Fleming Co., opened a dry goods store. They were replaced by the Getz Dry Goods Co. According to the June 11, 1914 edition of the Shawnee Daily News-Herald, as Getz was celebrating its one-year anniversary of business, their patronage had almost doubled in size.

Joe Getz was the store manager and his original partner was his brother, H. Getz. According to the Shawnee Daily News-Herald reports, the Getz brothers would often travel to New York and other east coast markets to purchase new stock for each season.

The Aug. 31, 1916 edition of the Shawnee Daily News-Herald reported that Getz was Shawnee's youngest merchant. “Getz came from New York City at the age of 19 to Oklahoma unacquainted with western customs and ideas, with little but save and unflattering faith in himself and a determination to avail himself of every opportunity....Today after six years of unceasing labor he is the president and manager of the Getz Dry Goods Company.”

Getz Dry Goods Co. was in operation until 1923 wand O.M. Reed Dry Goods, managed by Oliver Reed moved in.

According to records kept by Johnny Kneisel, O.M. Reed Dry Goods was in operation from 1923-1931 when a new building was built on the corner of Main and Bell.

The 1930 Shawnee City Directory indicates that J. Lucille was the manager of the store.

From 1931-1940 Don's Drug Store, owned and operated by Don Machenheimer was the pillar of 101 East Main.

Lot 11...

Lot 11, or 103 East Main, like its neighbor 101 East Main was home to several businesses early on.

The property was originally owned by the Choctaw, Oklahoma and Gulf Railroad and sold to the Smith Brothers for $1 and other valuable cash considerations on Dec 11, 1895.

Smith Brothers General merchandise did business from this location starting in 1895 and lasted until 1898.

Beginning in 1900 103 East Main became several grocery stores.

J.J. Rubble operated a grocery from 1901 until 1905.

Burke Grocery moved in sometime in early 1905. This grocery store suffered minimal damage when the fire that burned down the old Arkansas Club building caught fire. Burke Grocery was around until 1914.

Farmers Trading Store, operated by Leslie Van Antwerp, was in business from 1914-1919.

The storefront at 103 East Main was several other grocery stores that did not last more than a year, when C.R. Anthony Inc. opened a dry goods store at this location.

Records owned by Johnny Kneisel indicate, C.R. Anthony was in business here from 1928 until at least 1939.

F.W. Woolworth...

On Sept. 9, 1940, the F.W. Woolworth Company singed a lease and moved into the building that was home to 101-103 East Main. From this point forward, the storefront became known as 101 E. Main exclusively.

F.W. Woolworth was a five-and-dime store that was founded Feb. 22, 1878. The first Woolworth store was opened in Utica, New York.

In the 1941 Shawnee City Directory the first verified manager was A. Lowry. He managed the store until 1946.

David Urban managed the store from 1951-1954, Cecil L. Stewart in 1958, J.F. Grawe took over in 1961-1963.

The two longest tenured managers were W.M Semon from 1964-1967 and Mildred Freeman from 1968-1970.

Before her passing in June 2017, Louise “Tami” Thomas penned a memoir of her time as an employee at the F.W. Woolworth Co. in Shawnee. The department that Thomas worked in sold pots, pans, dishes and cloth.

“I could measure any length and width of table cloth and cut it just right for the table size,” Thomas said.

Thomas was hired as a part time employee and worked during the Christmas season and on Saturdays.

Thomas recalled her daily pay being $1.50. After social security was taken out, she would take home $1.38.

She recalled the store's lunch counter, located in the northwest corner of the store.

“They served great sandwiches, soup, salads and homemade desserts,” Thomas said. “Downtown workers, shoppers and employees would eat there.”

Other current and former Shawnee residents remember the Woolworth shopping experience.

“In the 60's they had a promotion for their ice cream sundaes,” John Leone said. “Pieces of paper marked from 1 cent to 39 cents were put in balloons the customer would pick a balloon and bust it and would pay the price that was marked on the paper.”

Leone was also a fan of the lunch served at Woolworth.

“They served a great plate lunch and various sandwiches that were very good,” he said. “They really took pride in the quality of their product.”

Frank Welch remembers buying a bag of candy for 10 cents at the Shawnee Woolworth. His favorite was chocolate peanut clusters and chocolate marshmallow clusters, he said.

F.W. Woolworth Co. renewed their lease of the property on 5-21-1955 for $15,000 per month. The store lasted until 1970 when the Shawnee location went out of business.

Post Woolworth...

According to the 1971 Shawnee City Directory Greene's moved in right after the closing of F.W. Woolworth Co. Greene's was exclusively a women's clothing store. Mrs. Sara Stone managed the store from its opening until 1973.

Stone took a three-year hiatus and Greene's was managed by Leatha Evans. Stone returned in 1977and managed the store until it closed.

The last listing in the Shawnee City Directory for Greene's came in 1984.

101 East Main sat vacant until March of 1992, when Theresa Cody opened up Crafter's Showplace.

“Shawnee didn't have a crafter's mall so I opened one up. I needed a big building and the space was available,” Cody said. “I leased space for artists to sell crafts, woodworking and handcrafted items.”

Other stores that operated at 101 East Main were Heavenly Sleep Shop from 1998-1999, Lazer World in 2003-2004.

Currently Frontline Church occupies the building at 101 East Main.