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A history of Harrington business


--From a post by Nicolette Reams at

Transportation is the key to survival for small towns, and Harrington is no different, depending on first horses, then trains, then automobiles to bring in visitors and residents. The many businesses that once stood on 9 North Third Street tell the history of the changing face of the automobile business in Harrington. The Studebaker shop is the most current business occupying this piece of property in a long line of automobile businesses in Harrington. It started out as a livery stable, most likely that of the O.K. Livery Stables owned by the McInnis brothers. When the livery burned down in 1916, a new building was built on the land, and the first business to occupy it was the Harrington Garage.

Same Old Street

When alumni return to Harrington, one of the frequent topics of discussion is, "Do you remember," which invariably ends up with memories of the stores on Third Street. People say that as we age the older memories are more reliable than more recently processed information. Memories come into alignment with photos and historic records, but it is fun to try to remember what one saw in former days. Third Street in Harrington since the arrival of the railroad in 1892 has been the location of the largest collection of businesses.

Prior to the railroad, as early as 1884, businesses were located east of the path which the railroad took, which included Edward Willis' and Charles Billings' store at the area of the current tennis courts. In that vicinity were also the Pickell Hotel and perhaps a blacksmith shop.

The large Harrington Hotel was reportedly constructed about 1884 on Main Street just off of Third, just west of the present US Bank building. The Harrington Hotel was destroyed by arson in 1904, ending the life of Lawrence Tierney. This hotel was never rebuilt but its name was later used for the Hotel Lincoln, which also was called the Electric Hotel.

A recent debate occurred over the "missing building next to current city hall, the parking lot." The missing building was the A.C. Billings brick block, which was completed in July and August of 1901. The contractor had been A.E. Saunders of Spokane.

A.C. Billings was one of three sons of Henry S. and Emma C. Billings, the others being Charlie and George. Henry was a farmer, as his father before him. Billings members applied for patents on homesteads as early as 1883 by Charles, which was canceled, and in 1884 by Arthur with patent in 1893. Henry applied in 1886 receiving his patent in 1894. Charles died in 1901 while in the employ of the railroad; Henry died in 1902 at which time Arthur C. Billings was mayor, in fact, the first mayor of Harrington.

Early photos show lines of buildings up and down Third Street. The 1903 photo from the booklet that was published by the Citizen was taken by Ole Hong. On the west side of Third, at the north end of block #39 was the 1894 brick block building that replaced the one burned down in 1894 containing King & Reeves, druggists, and Great Eastern Clothing Company. Incidentally, this fire also was thought to be arson. The fire was on March 2, 1894, the first major fire recorded with such loss in Harrington. Work was progressing well on the new building on the same location, called the Wilson Block, and nearly completed early in July. One half of the west side was contained by the Wilson Block, but the names of the business owners were not clear. By 1903, Glascock & Crisp owned the business in the most northerly location and next to it was the store of Peter and Grant McCann, McCann Bros. General Merchandise. The most southerly section belonged to the City Meat Market, at one time owned by Wm. Pratt and Sons. (Most alumni recognize this section as the former Challenger Cafe.)

South of the Wilson Block is an alley. Some good information on the early buildings can be located on the Sanborn Fire Maps for Harrington, which were created in 1902, 1905 and 1909. These maps show the Billings building as appearing divided 1/3 to the south portion and 2/3 to the north portion where the General Store was for a number of years.

As for specific details, when was Baker in the Billings building? "Baker's Grocery Does Business At New Location. Baker's Grocery has moved to its new location-the former Burgan store. Mr. and Mrs. Dana Baker, owners of the store, have purchased the building. They announce their grand opening will be April 23, 24 and 25, for which more information will be forthcoming. Another ice cream cabinet has been added to the store; otherwise the equipment is from the former building in most cases. Dana hasn't moved his furnace yet-but he will. The building from which the Bakers moved was the pioneer store of Mr. Billings and the Billings estate still owns the property (a niece and nephew, Mrs. Knight and Harry Goddell, in California)." (Citizen: 4-10-1959)

It is easy to imagine how a disagreement could arise over the location of Baker's store, after all, it moved. Or this explanation might clear the fog? "Bakers Sell Local Store to Fritz Heimbigner. Tuesday morning, Oct 1, Baker's Grocery became Fritz's Market. The Bakers-Dana and Max, and Larry and Cindy-sold the grocery store to Arnold and Trudy Heimbigner (Mr. and Mrs.), and the new owners changed the name to Fritz's Market. Heimbigner was tagged Fritz at birth-and the nickname has stuck. Mr. and Mrs. Dana Baker purchased the Yales Store from M.V. Yale in November, 1945 and have operated it as Bakers. In 1958 (sic) they moved to their present quarters that had been occupied by the Burgan's Store which was closed out by the owner Don Sterling." (Oct. 1963)

"Jack Adams Takes Over Liquor Store. Jack Adams, local barber, on Monday took over the Liquor Store from the Harrington Drug Company, and the stock of liquor was moved to its new location. The change-over was effective Monday when approval of the change was official. Mr. Adams enclosed a part of the area in the former store building of the Baker's Grocery into his barber shop room and constructed shelving, added a counter and other such items as are necessary. Jack will operate the store in conjunction with his barber shop and Mrs. Adams, who is employed at the Insurance Office, will help him Saturday afternoons." (Citizen: 7-14-1960)

H.S. Bassett used to write poetic paragraphs of the cycle of houses that occurred when one family purchased a new home, making their present residence available. Generally, four or more families would be involved in moving into a better place for their current needs. Similarly, the businesses would pack up their wares and move into another building, rarely was the reason specified. Finding all the pieces from the past is rather challenging. For example, it is not widely known where the Tinsley Hotel was located, nor when it was built. By 1894, the Tinsley Hotel was renamed the Pacific Hotel and was located on the corner of Willis and Third until the Bank Block for the Opera House was ready to be built. At that time the former Tinsley Hotel was lifted off its foundation and literally dragged around the corner, remaining in Block 39, but located on Main Street abutting the present lot of the Post Office.

The Billings building did not have such a past, but it had many renters with a variety of occupations under its roof. Billings and McDonald kept their mercantile going until 1907 at which time F.C. and G.E. Krumholz under the name Krumholz Bros. moved into the Billings building in July. This move was short-lived as they purchased the business of the Haynes Bros. and apparently moved all of their stock into that building. In July of 1908 the Ideal Ice Cream Parlor moved into the Billings store.

The old Billings building was condemned in the 1960s, and when the brick structure became even more damaged by a wind storm that broke the front windows, the city moved to have the building torn down. The city received the deed by November 1969, and a contract was let to Robert F. Kommers of Spokane for demolition, with removal to be completed by June 15, 1970.


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