Lot represents big part of Waynesburg’s past
A red brick building in the background and a pile of rubble are all that remain from the former Grover C. Hughes Hardware store in Waynesburg.
Tara Kinsell / Observer-Reporter
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WAYNESBURG – Before strip malls, Walmart and Target, most nonedible purchases could be made at your local hardware store. Grover C. Hughes Hardware was one such catchall emporium serving the greater Waynesburg area for nearly a century. One could buy bikes for the kids, feed for the horses and get a refrigerator all in the same place.
“If they didn’t have it, you probably didn’t need it,” said Tom Headlee, register and recorder for Greene County, whose recollection of Grover Hughes was that of a big man. “You couldn’t find anything for yourself in there. It was too packed. Anna Coneybeer worked there and she knew where everything was and could find it for you.”
The store closed in fall 2002, but the building that once held this staple of life in the area remained for another decade and change. In recent weeks, it was reduced to a pile of shattered lumber in the middle of a now empty lot. One building remains from the store, a red brick structure that will be renovated by its current owners, Jacobs Petroleum Products, which recently purchased the property from Greene ARC Inc. The company plans to use the remaining building for its maintenance department.
“We are going to fix it all up, put a new roof on it and a new furnace. We’ll have it looking nice in the next month or so,” said Steve Stuck, an owner of Jacobs Petroleum. “What we do will definitely enhance things from what the property looked like.”
Greene ARC acquired the property in 2005 from Hughes’ family with plans to build a 12,450-square-foot vocational training center that never materialized.
“We don’t have any solid plans for the rest of the property yet,” Stuck said, noting it gives his company, located adjacent to it, room to expand in the future. There wasn’t much left, but I did find a file from 1942 with Grover Hughes invoices and I kept those. It is neat to flip through and see what was being bought in the 1940s.”
When the business closed its doors an auction was held to sell the remaining stock. Headlee was there and recalled a treasure trove of Tonka trucks and the like, still in boxes, that he “watched go for big bucks,” at the store that advertised, “Drive down where you can save and park.” Other ads through the years offered long forgotten products like Kow-Kare dairy cow conditioner and Conkey’s poultry feed.
“You could purchase everything from a washer to a washer,” said Jay Hammers of Rhodes and Hammers Printing in Waynesburg, the latter referring to a washing machine.
Peeps in the window are what most people offered as a first impression of Grover Hughes Hardware. “Not the colored ones, and not just at Easter,” Hammers said. “I remember going to the post office in the spring and being in the lobby and hearing them. You knew they were getting their shipment that day.”
Grover Hughes first opened a farm supply store in April 1908 in a building located in an alley off of south Washington Street, near the building where Baily Insurance exists today. Within a couple of years it was operating at the 396 S. Washington St. address where it expanded to fit the needs of a growing product line. One simply dialed 106 to reach the store, a far cry from the 11 numbers that would be necessary to complete a call there when it closed in 2002.
Hughes, himself, remained at the helm until his death on May 5, 1959. His daughter, Kathryn H. Deever, would continue on as the managing partner after his death. Her son, Fred Deever, Hughes’ grandson, took over when his mother died in 1999, running it until its closure.
Hammers said he still misses the store that saw the public through the days of radio soap operas to color TV. “It had character; that’s what I miss most,” he said.
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