History of the building
The Hamer-Smith building that currently houses the museum was constructed in 1908. In 1907 Mr. James Frank Hamer (whose grandfather Hugh Hamer owned part of the village where Spring Mill Park currently resides) and Dr. W. H. Smith purchased the lot on the north side of the square and had the building occupying the lot torn down. The Bedford Weekly Mail from October 25, 1907 explains that this building was built in 1833 and was at the time “one of the eldest landmarks about the public square.” The building had served as residential and business space.
In March 1908 the construction was almost completed on the new Hamer-Smith building after a minor setback caused the stone front to need rebuilding. The Weekly Mail reported on the progress. “When completed the Hamer-Smith building will be a worthy competitor with the new Norton building on West 15th Street for honors as the handsomest business block in the city. Both these buildings are highly creditable to Bedford; and there should be more like them.”
The building has been home to many businesses between 1908 and the present day. The first business to be housed in the Hamer-Smith building was a furniture store and undertaking business run by James Frank Hamer and Walter W. Day. Hamer and Day were dealers in furniture and also embalmers and funeral directors. After closing the furniture and undertaking business, (c. 1912?), the building became home to a series of dental and doctor offices, two dry goods stores, a glove company, several furniture stores, the Bedford fruit store, several beauty shops, and a discount store. One of the beauty shops was run by Mrs. Janet Cuthill, Indiana Senator William Jenner’s mother-in-law. 1925 saw the Hamer-Smith building become home to Milton and Della Myers’ New Home Hotel. The longest held residency in the Hamer-Smith building, to date, is the Buck Lemon furniture company which moved into the building c.1934. Claude (Buck) Lemon ran his successful furniture company until his death in 1984. Lemon's family continued to run the business until they officially closed in 1998. The vacant building was purchased from the Lemons by the Lawrence County Historical and Genealogical Society in 2000. The LCHGS had been looking for several years for a historic building in which to house the Lawrence County Museum. The Museum was residing in the basement of the courthouse and had run out of space for new donations. The Hamer-Smith building held a lot of promise as a beautiful new home for the museum but after nearly 100 years and several dozen businesses, the building was in need of considerable repairs.
Over the years...
- 1908 Hamer-Day furniture and funeral directors located in a new building a this site.
- Physicians and dentist continued operating upstairs
- Field Glove factory occupied part of the building
- Leader Store--dry good and milliners
- Bedford Fruit Store
- Beauty shops
- 1937 Buck Lemon Furniture occupied part 927
- 1950 Buck Lemon Furniture --entire building with apartment on the 2nd floor.
- 1958 Buck Lemon and Rainbolt Millinery and watch/jewelry repairs
- 2005 Opening date for the 12,000 sq. ft. Museum and Library
Click here to read about the Hamer-Smith building’s restoration and conversion into the current home of the Lawrence County Museum of History and Edward L. Hutton Research Library.