A History of Avinger-Connor Building(s)

 

The site, upon which the combined building that houses "THE FIVE D CATTLE CO." is located, has an interesting history. Up until 1835, this portion of East Texas was still reserved for the Caddo Indians, who had been here for untold centuries. This site's very first conversion from pure, primeval wilderness began as recently as February 6, 1849 when S. F. Anders first obtained a 320 acre survey from the state land office. On January 8, 1860, he sold his entire 320 acre patent to Dr. Hamilton J. Avinger, a recent arrival from Orangeburg County, N.C. It then became the doctor's farm, home place, and orchard.

With the coming of the East Line and Red River narrow gauge railroad in the early 1870's, Dr. Avinger came up with a scheme to get the depot located on his land and thereby pull the two nearby outlying communities of Hickory Hill and Young's Chapel to his place. Once this was accomplished, he platted a town site for the new village of Avinger (Station) and the rest is history.

At first, the railroad ran right through where these two buildings are now. The depot sat next door and Dr. Avinger's store and office sat directly across Main Street from the depot/ This is the way things were until the railroad was converted to standard gauge and moved to its present right-of-way. All of this took place in 1893.

In 1912-13, Dr. Avinger's half-brother D. K. Avinger, moved his wooden store building directly across the street and a major construction project began with the erection of a five unit, brick complex. This was the beginning of the two structures being written about. C. C. Nelson & Co. of Sulphur Springs was the general contractor, and a man by the name if Hyde was the architect. The undertaking was a joint effort on the part of   D. R. Coulter, who was to have the first three units at the north end for his expanding Tucker, Coulter, Mitchell department store. L. H/ (Buck) Avinger, son of Dr. Avinger, now deceased, was to have site No. 4 as a rental unit, and Connor Bros. got No. 5 for their hardware business begun across the street in 1909. Carl and Harmon Connor operated this "Lum & Abner, Jot 'Em Down" type of hardware store through thick and thin, good times and bad for 52 years, until both died of old age in 1964. Over the years, they handled everything from the standard hardware items of nails, staples, barbed wire, tools, and sheet iron to garden see, fishing supplies, furniture, appliances, newspapers, rugs, needles, glassware, kitchen utensils, toys and harness. In the early days they stocked coffins and served as the local undertakers on certain occasions. They even had an auto dealership in the late 1920's, displaying at least one new Chevrolet at a time in the front of the crowded store.

After the fellows passed on, their heirs sold the building and remaining stock to H. G. (Boots) Early who auctioned off the remnants. He then sold the building to B. B. Waldrop who operated Waldrop's Grocery. Mr. Waldrop later sold to Dorothy Odell who opened it as Dorothy's Cafe. The next owner was the City of Avinger who used it as the Senior Citizens Center for the next few years until Doug and Demeris Jacobs bought it and the one next door in 1997 for their present restaurant operation.

Building No. 2, known as the "L. H. Avinger Building", has had a somewhat more varied history. Its first tenant was Thompson's Dry Goods Store. After operating there for several years, it went out of business. It then became a drugstore operated by Mr. Moore who had a pharmacist son-in-law by the name of Frank Whisenhunt. Mr. Whisenhunt took over the store and ran it until about 1925. It then became vacant for a year or so during which time it was used for plays and the showing of an occasional silent movie. In 1924, the Post Office was moved into it from across the street.

In about 1937, the Post Office was moved back across the street. After sitting vacant for awhile, the Avinger Building was converted to a full fledged movie house known as the TIMBERLAND THEATER. The theater owner was Mr. McNatt of Naples. It continued to serve in this capacity all during World War II, until about 1946. When no longer used as a theater, the building was being occupied by various short term renters. IT was finally sold to Boots Early by the Avinger heirs. Recent occupant's have been  McEachern's Ceramic Shop and Skipper Transportation's Trucking Company. The Jacobs bought it in 1997 and began an extensive restoration of it and the former Connor building. These two historic buildings have been converted to the picturesque western style steakhouse it is today.

 

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