Within a few years, one generation passes and another comes on the scene. If those who follow are to have any notion of what it was that went before, it must fall to those who possess a tie to the past to preserve what may be known. In that spirit, the people of Montrose, Colorado, endeavored in 1997 to document and record the history of the region and town.
Lathrop Hardware Store (1889)
439 E. Main
In 1889, J.V. Lathrop put up his own building and started the Lathrop Hardware Store. His bill of goods included bicycles, Home Comfort and Majestic brand cook stoves, Devoe paints, and the latest glass-jar type churns. He sold the new White front ice boxes and elegant pewterware. Farmers depended on his store for farm implements, wagons, and buggies. Lathrop was so successful that in 1900 he was able to build the then largest house in Montrose at 718 Main. It had eleven rooms and was three stories high and is now on the National Register of Historic Places.
Masonic Temple (1911)
509-517 E. Main
The Montrose Masonic Lodge 163 received its charter in September 1885, holding its first meetings in the upstairs of the Thomas Hotel building at 448 E. Main. With rapid increase in membership, the organization soon outgrew its surroundings and entered
into a contract with Buddecke and Diehl for the use of the upstairs of the brick building at 347 E. Main, where the organization remained for the next 25 years.
In elaborate ceremonies, the Masons laid the cornerstone of the newly completed Masonic Temple on March 11, 1911. A procession was escorted down Main Street from the old lodge hall by Company F of the National Guard and included Grand Lodge officers and members of the fraternity from all over Colorado's Western Slope.
Built by well-known local contractors White and Okey, the Masonic Temple is the only building on Montrose's Main Street in which stone was extensively used for both structural and decorative purposes. Note the polished date and identification stones at the entrance and the Egyptian columns separating the second story windows. Constructed at a cost of $20,000, the building was designed as a temple and was in continuous use by the Masons until 1960.
Frees Building (1903)
443-447 E. Main
J.C. Frees, a pioneer gentleman-farmer-grocer-world traveler, was often seen sitting on the curb in Montrose, dressed in tailored clothes and wearing trimmed dark hair and beard. He habitually fingered the handful of opals he kept in his vest pocket, an eccentricity that marked him as a gentleman of means.
Frees came to the Montrose area in 1877. With
the founding of the town in 1882, he brought the first wagon load of groceries into Montrose and started the first store in a log cabin with a dirt floor., located in "Old Town" near the present South 9th. The business was moved to this site and became known as Montrose Mercantile Company.
The present structure, built in 1908, is a fine example of historic preservation, with its original pressed metal cornice featuring modillions, paired brackets, and the swag and fleur de lis motif.
Hartman Brothers (1912)
531 E. Main
Founded by Sid and Joe Hartman as a bicycle and engine repair shop in 1904, Hartman Brothers is one of just a handful of businesses surviving from the early beginnings of Montrose. The company is notable not only for its longevity but its many firsts they brought to the tire and automobile business on the Western Slope of Colorado. Among other innovations:
* When the first Cadillac, a one-cylinder automobile brought to Montrose for Dr. and Mrs. R.V. Adler, arrived y train, Sid Hartman didn't wait for the car to be reassembled. Using an apple box for a seat, he took the car for its first spin down the dusty and rutted Main Street.
*In 1908, Hartman Brothers became the first Ford Agency in western Colorado. A new Ford sold for $390, but the price did not include lights, spare tires, or tools.
* Joe Hartman made the first trip by automobile over the treacherous Million Dollar Highway between Ouray and Silverton on July 5, 1909. It took two hours to traverse the twelve miles.
* First gas and oil distributor on the Western Slope; largest Willard battery dealer west of the Mississippi; largest Dodge dealer on the Western Slope.
* Hartman Brothers was the first business to transport cars by piggyback on tracks from the factory, beginning the practice in (illedgible)
* In 1997, the Hartman (illedgible) is still in business operating on North First Street in Montrose.