Editor's Note: This is the 272nd in a series of articles recalling vanished Huntington scenes.
HUNTINGTON - When Huntington Awning and Patio Shop at 114 8th Ave. closed its doors in 2012, it wrote an end to a 97-year-old business.
Owner Tom G. Proctor described his company as "another victim of the downturn in the national economy." He said he planned to continue selling awnings to local customers but would be working with a company in Columbus, Ohio, rather than crafting the awnings in his own shop.
The company began as the Huntington Tent & Awning Co., established by E.M. Peoples in 1915. Over the years, the company operated at a number of different addresses. In its early years it was located at three different addresses on 3rd Avenue. It then moved to 1035 6th Ave. and later to 1305 16th St. After it went into the patio furniture business, the re-named business needed more space and so moved from 16th Street to its 8th Avenue location.
At first, the company primarily manufactured tents. Later it began making commercial and residential awnings. Before the advent of air conditioning, businesses and homeowners installed awnings as protection against the heat of the sun. In recent years, awnings have become primarily decorative, favored by businesses and homeowners seeking a splash of color.
Peoples brought in Tom Proctor's father, Henry G. Proctor Jr., to manage the business. After Peoples died in 1960, Henry Proctor bought the company and merged it with American Awning Co.
In a 2009 interview with the Herald-Dispatch, Tom Proctor said he began in the business after finishing school. Unsure what career direction to take, he began working with his father.
"I felt it was a great opportunity to be able to work with my father. He expected a lot from me and, honestly, he was always my hero."
When his father retired in the 1980s, the younger Proctor took over the business. The senior Proctor died in 2011 at age 92.