History of Avinger-Connor Building(s)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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