From the Library Archives: The Power Mercantile company by Nancy Watts

     The Power Mercantile company at 301 W. Broadway was built in 1913 as an extension of their Main Street building. (now vacant, formerly Sears, and later the Mini-Mall). The Midland Bowling Alley was in the basement.

     “Manager W.D. Symmes, of the Power Mercantile company, gave out the pleasing announcement yesterday that arrangements have been completed for the erection this year of a store building adjoining the present establishment of the company and extending on Third Avenue to Broadway. The building will have a frontage of 200 feet on Third Avenue and probably 50 feet on Broadway. Work is to begin just as soon as the frost is out of the ground and the building will be ready for occupancy by September 1.” (“Fergus County Democrat,” January 21, 1913). 

     “Plans for the Power Mercantile company’s new store building on Third Avenue, extending from the present building to Broadway are being completed by Link and Haire at Helena.” (“Fergus County Democrat,” February 25, 1913). 

     “W.D. Symmes, for the Power Mercantile company, submitted the detailed plans of the new building to be erected by the company on Third Avenue. The structure will be built of native gray stone, to correspond with the Main Street Building. It will be supported by concrete piers and the foundation will be sufficiently strong to support a four-story building, although but two stories will be erected now. The basement will be concrete and the Third Avenue front will be chiefly plate glass, with the supports. The frontage on the avenue will be 110 feet, with a frontage on Washington Street [Broadway] of 50 feet, which does not include the massive stone warehouse [built 1908] fronting on that thoroughfare.” (“Fergus County Democrat,” March 11, 1913). 

     “The Power Mercantile company’s addition on Third Avenue, cost, $55,000. This was designed to match the main building and covers a space 75 by 200 feet, making a building 200 feet, with a portion out for an alley. It is solidly built of stone. On the main floor the grocery department will run through from Main Street to Broadway. The cold storage plant will be in this new part. In the center of the main floor on the west side, will be the general offices, while that of Mr. Symmes will be on the mezzanine floor above the general offices, communication between the two being by means of a winding iron stairway. The new fireproof vault is located north of the general offices and is two stories, with an iron stairs communicating between the two.  On the mezzanine floor are retiring room, writing room and toilet for ladies. The second floor is arranged for the millinery and dressmaking departments and provides for a large extension of the furniture department.” (“Fergus County Democrat,” December 16, 1913).

     “Saturday witnessed the formal opening of the Power Mercantile company new store. Large additions to the building itself has made place for the huge increase of stock in almost every department. One of the chief enlargements is in the grocery department, which takes up the greater part of the new downstairs addition. Within this department improvements are manifold, one of the first of these being the cold storage plant. This plant stores twenty-two tons of ice and an ample supply of butter, eggs, green vegetables and the like are well kept behind its wall, part of which are of glass. Two compartments divide the butter and eggs from the vegetables, so that any taint is impossible. Another excellent feature of the grocery is the order and wrapping department, where outgoing orders receive attention in a part set aside for that purpose.

     “Sections for the bakery goods and confectionery also have a place in this new arrangement. The shoe department now occupies the place where the grocery formerly was.

     “For women patrons: All the offerings of the most up-to-date stores in the country can be bought here, where all the beauty and color of the spring and summer fabrics is temptingly displayed. Just above this department is the new rest room for women. This includes an attractively furnished sitting room with a desk for writing, toilet rooms and a smaller room, where lunches may be eaten. This room was built largely to meet the needs of out-of-town patrons. Behind this is the manager’s office, which communicates by a small stairway with the business office below.

     “Those who visited the store on the opening day, Saturday, were pleased with the splendid appearance of the store and its stock. An orchestra stationed in the spacious furniture sales room on the second floor made the visit doubly pleasant.” (“Fergus County Democrat,” May 26, 1914).  

The Broadway Street addition to the Power Mercantile building was built
in 1913 at 301 West Broadway Street

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