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Ochiltree County Historical Markers

Plainview Hardware Company Building, Perryton
(National Register Listing)




Plainview Hardware Company Building, Perryton

Address: 210 S. Main St.
Architect: Berry, Joseph Champ
Architectural Style: ART DECO
Historic Function: COMMERCE/TRADE

Narrative: The 1930 Plainview Hardware Company Building is a 2- story, masonry Art Deco commercial building with a rectangular plan and a flat metal-covered roof. Constructed of reinforced concrete frame and floors, the building has a steel trussed roof. A veneer of dressed limestone on the front and common-bond brick on the sides and rear finish the exterior of 25 by 140 feet enclosing more than 10,000 square feet of floor space. The building fronts east onto South Main Street in the central business district of Perryton, Texas.

The area surrounding the Plainview Hardware Company Building exhibits topographical features characteristic of High Plains settlements. Incorporated in 1919, Perryton has a strict rectilinear street plan and is generally flat with little variation. The commercial district juts south from the railroad, which is on a 45 degree northeast to southwest angle, and roughly forms a T-plan town. Two blocks south of the railroad, the Plainview Hardware Company Building is centered in a commercial block. Directly to its north is the 1-story Perryton Furniture Company Building, built in 1919.

The Plainview Hardware Company Building's Art Deco style is emphasized with a shallow stepped front facade that has carved limestone with teas relief detailing. The facade's carved motifs and patterns create angular geometric forms, some squares and some floral motifs, that highlight verticality. These stylized sculptures relieve the simple cubic forms and flat surfaces on the building.

The central front entrance features an Art Deco styled terrazzo floor that identifies the property as the "Plainview Hardware - Furniture Co." The basement originally extended 10 feet under the sidewalk, and glass blocks set into the sidewalk allowed natural light into the front part of the under structure; this front portion was covered with a new sidewalk in the late 1970's, eliminating the glass lights. Exterior display windows on both sides of the front entrance are elevated 18 inches off the ground with Belgian black marble bases inset with four bronze grates, adding to the Art Deco embellishments. The display windows have copper frames. A small awning projects above the display windows. Copper flashing and four frosted glass transoms with copper fittings are above the awning. Originally small, square, frosted glass tiles filled the transom area above the display windows. Four 1/1 double-hung frosted glass windows define the second story.

The oak front door and its hardware are original. The transom immediately above the door and the sidelights is glazed with original leaded glass. Metal glazing within the window forms a low relief angular design, another typical Art Deco element. Glass in the door itself, the transom, and two of the sidelights has been replaced with replica pane.

A neon Plainview Hardware Company sign at the center of the facade was probably added in 1939 to mark and visually separate the newly divided hardware store and furniture store, when the latter moved next door. The sign was removed from the building in the early 1970's. In the early 1940's an advertisement for victory bonds was painted on the upper portion of the north facade. This sign was restored in the 1970's.

The north and south brick sides of the building each have seven 4/4 double-hung windows on the second story. The west (rear) brick facade has three entrances on the first level, one of which is to the freight elevator. Above these entrances fenestration is varied: small 2/2 double-hung windows, 4/4 double-hung windows, and 1/1 double-hung windows. The 4-story elevator shaft is at the back of the building. The roof is cleared with sheet metal and terra cotta coping covers the roof's parapet walls.

The rear interior of the Plainview Hardware Company Building has stairs and a freight elevator that connect each of four levels: a full basement, a main display floor, a mezzanine, and a second full floor. Wrought iron railings with oak banisters line the stairs and mezzanine. The original electric Otis freight elevator continues to service all levels of the building and the alley.

An interior stairway accesses the basement, which is unfinished storage space with exposed brick walls. In the basement a large boiler, coal chute, and two radiators denote the original steam heating system that Howard Holt, a local plumbing and heating contractor, installed.

The interior masonry walls and 16-foot ceiling of the main level and mezzanine are sand plastered. On the main level, the front display window areas have oak parquet flooring divided by oak veneer and glass partitions. The back walls retain a delicate, decorative hand painted design that enhances the building's Art Deco architecture as do two decorative metal strips, that resemble picture molds, running around the walls of the main level. The display window areas ceilings have Arts and Crafts styled oak plywood paneling and original light fixtures of glass reflectors that hold regular incandescent bulbs.

The mezzanine, at the rear of the building, has oak veneer and glass partitions separating two offices. The offices have their original oak doors with hardware intact; one door has frosted glass, the other clear glass. A mezzanine-level bathroom has its original fixtures intact. "Battleship" linoleum covers the mezzanine floor.

The second level, accessed by both stairs and the elevator, is unfinished storage space with exposed brick walls.

During the 1988 rehabilitation, necessary exterior work was minimal, although interior work was extensive. Exterior replacements were made for the leaded glass in the front door, two sidelights, and the transom immediately over the door; for the jambs and sills on the transom windows; and for the back doors. Exterior and interior metal elements were cleaned, and copper was lacquered to preserve its finish. All interior wood was stripped and varnished, including rails and banisters on the mezzanine and stairs, the office partition's veneer, and the front door. Plaster was repaired and walls were repainted. Removal of false walls in the display windows revealed the hand painted back walls. Removal of a mezzanine level wall revealed the staircase to the top floor.

The 1930 Plainview Hardware Company Building is an Art Deco masonry building, an unusual style for Perryton, a small town in the Texas Panhandle. Regionally prominent architect Joseph Champ Berry, of the Amarillo firm Berry and Hatch, designed the building. It represented not only a bold commercial investment at the onset of the Depression but also denoted a major expansion for an important early Perryton business and partnership. The building merits nomination to the National Register of Historic: Places under Criteria A and C for its historical and architectural significance.

Jacob Henry Neufeld and John Just founded the Plainview Hardware and Furniture Company in 1910 in Plainview, Oklahoma, approximately 120 miles northeast of Perryton. Two other men joined the partnership later. Neufeld's half brother, Sam Hergert, purchased a five percent interest in 1911 and B.B. Kent acquired a transfer of property in 1913. The four partners moved the business in 1913 to Gray, Oklahoma, 16 miles north of Plainview, where hardware, farming implements, and furniture were freighted overland from Liberal, Kansas until 1919.

The towns of Gray, Oklahoma, and Ochiltree, Texas, joined together to form Perryton on August 22, 1919, as the result of the Santa Fe Railroad's western expansion from Oklahoma across the northern Texas plains that year. Eight miles south of the Oklahoma line, Perryton became a railroad town along the Spearman branch of the Panhandle and Santa Fe line, and the seat of Ochiltree County. This development prompted the partners to move the company to Perryton where the rail system could deliver merchandise with less expense and greater expediency. The Plainview Hardware and Furniture Company, two blocks south of the rail line on Main Street was the first new business recorded at the Ochiltree County Courthouse.

In the fall of 1919 the company built a 50 by 100 foot 1-story building with an interior mezzanine on South Main Street in Perryton. A later brick addition to the back of this building measured 40 by 50 feet. Also in 1919, a corrugated 50 by 140-foot metal warehouse was erected across the back alley. Another later addition was a 75 by 140 foot machinery lot. The metal warehouse was recently demolished.

As the company grew so did the need for more space, resulting in the 1930 construction of a new Plainview Hardware Company Building. Combined with the company's three other structures, the retail store grew to a total of 28,000 square feet. Plans for the lot to the south of the 1919 store called for removal of a 100-foot frame structure that two 2-story buildings would replace. The new Plainview Hardware Company Building was the first of the two buildings; the second building was never constructed.

Joseph Champ Berry, of the Amarillo architectural firm Berry and Hatch, designed the building. Berry was a prominent Texas Panhandle architect from 1910 until his death in April 1952, designing both conventional eclectic and modern styles. In Amarillo Berry designed the 1930 Firestone Building at 1000 South Tyler, combining Art Deco and Spanish Colonial Revival details, and the 1917 O.P. Jones House at 1620 South Tyler, with a mixture of Prairie and Mediterranean influences. The front of the Plainview Hardware Company Building, according to the December 4, 1930, Ochiltree County Herald, "...shows the handiwork and planning of the master designer. The lines are a gem of modern architecture." The newspapers estimated the building's cost at $35,000 and local records show that the builder received cash payments of $28,185.10.

The building displays typical Art Deco details. The front facade has detailed limestone with carved teas relief. The motifs and patterns create angular geometric forms, mostly a grid pattern, that highlight verticality. The central front entrance features an Art Deco styled terrazzo floor and an oak front entrance door with a glazed transom and sidelights and original leaded glass.

The new Plainview Hardware Company Building celebrated its formal opening on Wednesday, December 10, 1930, "...from early morning until late in the evening," according to the local newspaper. The company was one of Perryton's largest businesses employing at least 10 people: Kent as general manager, Hergert as assistant manager and repair department manager, Neufeld as manager of farm implements and power machinery that included McCormick-Deering equipment, Neufeld's son Clarence as office manager, C.F. Jones as furniture department manager, Harry Nickel as furniture department assistant manager, Charley Kent as hardware manager, Lake Patton as warehouse manager, a shop mechanic and a field salesman.

John Just moved to Reedley, California, in 1932 and assumed sole ownership of property that he and Neufeld had purchased there in the 1920's. Neufeld assumed sole ownership of their Perryton property. In 1939 Neufeld's son- in-law became manager of the furniture portion of the company. As a result, the 1919 building became the Perryton Furniture Company Building while the newer building retained its identity as the Plainview Hardware Company Building. The Plainview Hardware and Furniture Company remained the parent organization owning and operating the 1-story 1919 Perryton Furniture Company Building, the 1919 metal warehouse, the machinery lot, five Amherst Street lots behind the buildings, and this 2-story building.

The partners' heirs assumed ownership of the company following their deaths: Kent in 1948, Hergert in 1962, and Neufeld in 1964. In October 1986 the heirs sold the company's inventory after 76 continuous years of business. The partnership officially ended in May 1988 and divided the property among 11 heirs.

The 2-story Art Deco Plainview Hardware Company Building remains an imposing structure in Perryton's central business district. The main floor of the building is now a gift shop and the mezzanine is a tea room. The copper trimmed Art Deco building retains its structural assets and maintains an unusual degree of architectural integrity. The building is a well preserved reminder of Perryton's early 20th century development.



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This page was last updated March 17, 2003.