223 W. Main
Date Built: 1883
Builder: John Giles
1st business: John Giles & Co Grocery
John and Maria Giles bought this corner lot from Freeman S. Jones after a fire destroyed the Franklin Hotel here in 1882. Giles built this brick building and opened the John Giles & Co Grocery in Nov. 1883, operating it for 23 years, until 1906. He advertised staple and fancy groceries, especially teas. He always paid the highest market price for fresh made butter and strictly fresh eggs.
Scott Hardware opened on January 1, 1907 and operated until 1914. It was a stock held company and Merle Gee bought an interest in the business in 1914 and the remainder in 1915. He then changed the name to Gee’s Hardware and operated it from 1914 to 1965. Gee’s motto became “If we don’t have it, we’ll get it for you.” In 1937, he opened the “Basement Store” for farmers. There was a huge Sedgwick freight elevator that was used to move goods up and down. Mr. Gee was saluted for 50 years as a business owner in 1964. Sam Myers and Cecil DeRushia managed the store for Gee when he became too ill. Cary Stiff purchased the business in 1965 and continued it as Gee’s Hardware until his death in 1979.
It became Riverside Fireplace Shop from 1979-1984 and then Cousin’s Hallmark from 1984 to 2014. In 2016, LowellArts! renovated the building for their art gallery and offices.
Images: Photo of Gee’s Hardware was taken January 1, 1937. Notice the Pittsburgh Paint advertisement-- Granddaughters, Susan and Nancy Gee, would stack the cans of paint into perfect pyramids in the front window. Also on the side of the building was a map of Lowell and vicinity intended to help travelers.
Front window of Gee's Hardware.