Editor’s Note: This is the 347th in a series of articles recalling vanished Huntington scenes.
UNTINGTON — The Lewis-Wilson Hardware & Farm Machinery Co., long located at 732 3rd Ave., was a distributor for International Harvester Corp. tractors and sold many other pieces of farm equipment.
A Certified International Harvester repair and parts shop, the business employed more than a dozen people, including office staff, salesmen, shop mechanics and the parts department manager. The disassembled tractors would arrive by rail, then were put together in the shop and delivered by truck to the purchaser’s farm.
The hardware section of the store sold seeds, tools, nails, chain, rope, barb wire, Chief brand paints, shoes for horses, mules and oxen, household goods and countless other items. It had an extensive firearms department. And it was even a redemption center for Wilson (no relation) Condensed Milk Co. coupons which could be redeemed for merchandise.
Lewis-Wilson did a brisk business selling wooden barrels. The company would hire day laborers from the City Market to unload the barrels from boxcars at the Baltimore & Ohio freight station at 11th Street and then roll them down 2 ½ alley to the company’s warehouse. Many of the barrels were purchased by enterprising moonshiners.
The company also owned and operated a 135-acre dairy farm at Ona, on the James River & Kanawha Turnpike.
The store originally operated under the name J. M. Lewis Farm Machinery Co. Later. John M. Lewis and Madison Jack Wilson jointly operated it as Lewis-Wilson Hardware. In 1953, the ownership was transferred to two nephews of the founders, Henry Anderson “Bud” Wilson Jr. and Charles Rickette Gwinn.
Lewis-Wilson Hardware survived the great Ohio River flood of 1937, but it couldn’t survive Huntington’s downtown urban renewal project. “Bud” Wilson Jr. went on to establish the Wilson Hardware Co. located on 3rd Avenue between 8th and 9th streets, operating it until his retirement in 1968.