Editor's Note: This is the 287th in a series of articles recalling vanished Huntington scenes.
HUNTINGTON - For decades the approach of a new school year saw countless Huntington area teachers visit the J.S. Latta store to purchase the supplies they needed for the coming year. Many youngsters and their parents also scheduled a trip to Latta's as they prepared for returning to their classrooms.
Latta's originated in Cedar Falls, Iowa, where it was founded by educator John Stewart Latta in 1898. After his success in Cedar Falls, Latta opened branch businesses in other cities.
The Huntington location was opened by Hugh DeWolf Mullarky in 1931. He was succeeded by his son Bill. In 1988, the company was sold to a Canadian firm, which went into bankruptcy in 1997. The following year, the Latta's name was purchased by Michael D. Mullarky, Bill's son and the third generation of the family to own and operate the store.
For many years, Latta's was located in rented quarters in the 1400 block of 4th Avenue. In 1955, it built its own building on the northeast corner of 4th Avenue and 15th Street.
Besides teaching aids and school supplies, Latta's also sold art supplies designed for ages from preschool through adult.
After selling school and art supplies for 86 years, Latta's closed its retail store in 2017. Henceforth, owner Mike Mullarky said, the company would strictly focus on "the mail order, online and furniture aspect of our business."
Today the Latta's School Outfitters website offers "more than 9,000 products for early childhood professionals and teachers."