123 East Main Street in Shawnee has been several different businesses over the years.
123 East Main Street in Shawnee has been several different businesses over the years.
The corner of Main and Union was home to a dry goods store, a saloon, pool hall, hotel, several clothing stores, a party store, a trading cards business, and most recently a comic book store.
According to documents at the Pottawatomie County Clerk's Office, in 1895, Thomas B. And G.W. Overstreet purchased the two lots that would eventually become 123 East Main for $350 from the Choctaw, Oklahoma and Gulf Railroad Company.
The first business to occupy the corner of Main and Union Streets was Mammoth Dry Goods in 1895. According to an article written in 1998 by Johnny Kneisel and Wallace R. Lale for the Shawnee Sun, “Overstreet's business originally went by the name of Overstreet's but was renamed the Mammoth in 1895.”
Mammoth lasted one year under the ownership of Overstreet as he sold the business in 1896. According to the article written by Kneisel and Lale, the new owners, Hocker and Kendall, had a large liquidation sale, touted as “The Greatest Sale” ever held in Oklahoma.
H.F. Potts had bought out Hocker and Kendall in 1897, and moved the Mammoth store to the corner of Main and Bell Streets.
Several photos from the early days of downtown Shawnee were taken by A.F. Martin, who owned and operated a photography studio directly across the street from 123 East Main Street. Martin documented the various businesses that came and went in the downtown area.
The saloon era...
In 1897, 123 East Main Street became Dick Fletcher Saloon.
A year earlier, G.W. Overstreet would sell his share of the land to Thomas Overstreet for $2,000 on Dec. 2, 1896. G.W. Overstreet owned the property until Feb. 26, 1897 when he sold it to Virginia Baldwin for $2,000.
Records at the Pottawatomie County Museum indicate the Arcade Bar started sometime in 1898. The Arcade Bar sold wines, liquors and cigars and was known to have fresh beer on tap and open all night.
William F. “Billy” Simms took over the operations shortly after. Newspapers of the time period indicate that Simms was elected as the chief of police in Shawnee from 1904 and served in that capacity until 1909.
On Jan. 18 1901, Baldwin sold the property to A.L. Childers and J. Hanning for $6,000. The new owners hired the Cowen Construction Company to remove the wood framed structure and built a two-story brick building.
The corner business was home to the Arcade Saloon until 1906, when two men, Stephens and Rascoe purchased the business and rebranded as the Arcade Bar.
According to The Shawnee News, the next known owner of the Arcade Bar was J.W. Stephens who received a letter on July 31, 1907, stating that an unidentified man had been found in New Mexico with a voucher for a complimentary bottle of Lee's Old Crow at the Arcade Saloon in Shawnee, Oklahoma.
The author of the letter was M.H. Koch who was an undertaker and embalmer in New Mexico. Koch's letter states, “The man was about five foot nine inches tall, with solid frame of body, weight possibly 175 lbs., brown hair and bluish eyes, and as near as could be determined, about 29 years of age...Although the officials wired to Shawnee, nothing could be learned from there, and finding this check, I take the liberty to write to you, to discover by this means the possible whereabouts of his kin.”
Brawls were commonplace out front of the Arcade Bar. In the March 7, 1907 edition of The Shawnee News, it was reported that “J.W. Carroll and his brother B.F. Carroll, two farmers of middle age, became engaged in a fight in front of the Arcade Bar today that resulted in J.W. Carroll receiving a dangerous scalp wound. B.F. Carroll was refused the loan of a plow by his brother and called hard names. J.W. resented by striking B.F. and the latter delivered a heavy blow with the end of a buddy whip, cutting severely.”
A brief in the Nov. 18, 1907 edition of The Shawnee News indicated The Arcade Saloon had been closed and leased for a loan office.
In the Nov. 22, 1907 edition of The Shawnee News, saloons were closing all over Shawnee due to the anticipation of Shawnee's newfound statehood. “The buildings that were occupied by saloons are rapidly being transformed into homes and other lines, many of which will be a two fold advantage to Shawnee over the saloon, a business that is rapidly passing into decay in consequence of popular opinion against it becoming too strong for its further existence...As fast as they can be cleared of saloon and bar fixtures they are being refitted for occupancy by other lines of more prosperous and worthy character.”
123 East Main Street was once again a place where one could see action any time of day as it became the Arcade Billiard and Pool Hall in 1908. Ben Bond is listed as the proprietor of the establishment in various advertisements in that era's newspapers.
With the pool hall, and more than likely a bit of gambling mixed with copious amounts of booze, came more fisticuffs in the streets.
According to the July 27, 1909 edition of the Shawnee Daily Herald, a group of four men were involved what could be referred to as a donnybrook. The Daily Herald reads, “The quartet, Hank and Frank Meeks, W. Carico and Chelsey Owen, were engaged in a fistic fusillade on Main Street near the Arcade Pool Hall at a late hour Saturday night...The above case is a repetition of brawls arising from too much booze.”
Towards the end of the Arcade Pool Hall's run, the business was sold to M.D. Day who was an Alderman for the city of Shawnee. The Dec. 16, 1908 edition of the Shawnee Daily Herald said, “The popular city official, who has many friends will greatly increase the patronage that this place has been enjoying. Day has been in business in the city before and at one time was a foreman at the Rock Island shops.”
At some point in the early 1900s, the space above 123 East Main Street became home to the Arcade Hotel. One interesting story from the hotel or rooming house came from the Sept. 18, 1908 edition of The Shawnee News.
The article reads, “This morning at four o'clock a boy child was born to a young mother at the Arcade rooming house. The mother had been deserted six months ago by her husband and for the past four months has been existing the best she could in Shawnee...The mother, known as Beulah Lyles is barley 21 years of age and has no relatives aside from a sister in McAlester, who is in poor circumstance.”
According to the article, Ms. Lyles was assisted by several locals and even had some of her medical bills taken care of by concerned citizens. The newspaper article reported that the baby boy was healthy and was receiving an abundance of attention at the Arcade boarding house.
123 East Main Street saw its last drop of alcohol in 1910. The Arcade Billiards and Pool Hall closed its doors and was replaced by a bank soon after.
In come the banks...
The era in which banks occupied 123 East Main was short lived.
According to Kneisel and Lale's article, Security State bank organized March 3, 1910 with William S. Search serving as its first president.
Security State Bank ran until December of 1920 when it failed. Oklahoma's Deposit Guaranty Law protected all depositors 100 percent.
Not long after, Guaranty State Bank was organized and took over certain assets of Security State Bank. In 1923, Guaranty was converted into the Federal National Bank. The bank moved across the street in 1925.
A revolving door of businesses...
According to the Shawnee City Directories of the 1920s and 30s, 123 East Main Street sat vacant until 1931 when Levy's Inc. moved in. Levy's Inc. was a men's clothing store that was in operation until 1937, when it was taken over by the Vogue Style Shop.
Vogue was in business from 1937-1965. They were a women's clothing store and served several current and former Shawnee residents.
Betty Hammons recalls shopping at Vogue. Hammons said she was a frequent shopper after she graduated high school in 1960.
Deanie Wells remembers Vogue for their unrivaled salesmanship. Wells recalls saleswomen would go into the dressing room and assist with the fitting process, she said.
Bob Byers spent a lot of time in Vogue. His grandmother, Callie Rice, worked at the store doing alterations. Byers said he remembers spending a lot of quality time in the store.
Cyndi Cooke Speers shopped at the Vogue regularly, and said they had some of the best customer service in the downtown area.
“The saleslady, Ruby, was so helpful and smart about what styles we liked,” Speers said. “Ruby would sometimes come out and stop us walking by to tell us she had 'put back' something she thought we'd like that had just come in. Most of the time we would buy the item. She was a fantastic sales lady and really knew her customers. I loved that shop.”
After Vogue closed its doors, 123 East Main sat vacant until 1968 and another women's clothing store opened up. According to the available Shawnee City Directories, Mode O'Day was in operation from 1968-1973.
According to the Shawnee City Directories of that time period, Fashion Crossroads operated out of 123 East Main Street from 1982-1986, All Occasions Party Supply from 1988-1991, Will E Makit Baseball Cards 1991-1992, Archives Books and Comics in 1994.
Bibliotech Books and Comics has called 123 East Main Street home since 1995. Owner Randy Grizzle's bookstore caters to fans of gaming, pop culture and non-fiction readers.