I’d been thinking of writing a column about Noblesville’s A. H. Lacy building (the former home of Kirk’s hardware and current home of the Linden Tree) for a long time, so when the opportunity recently arose for me to be part of a small, informal tour of the building, I jumped at the chance.
Led by new owner Christopher Nurnberger, we covered the entire structure from bottom to top, with the exception of the space occupied by the Linden Tree. It was an eye-opening adventure.
Just walking into the old Kirk’s store was startling. I’d never seen it when it wasn’t crammed to the gills with hardware items and household goods. I hadn’t realized how big that room actually is.
It must have appeared pretty much like that when Albert Lacy, the man responsible for the building, started looking for his first tenants.
Lacy is largely forgotten these days, but during his lifetime he was considered one of this county’s most successful farmers and businessmen.
He was a director of the Citizen’s State Bank, a charter member of the Indiana Loan Association, served on the board of the Hamilton County Fair Association, owned part of a lumber business, and from 1878 to 1880 he was a member of the Noblesville City Council.
The Lacy Block was finished in October, 1888. (That’s how contemporary newspapers refer to the building. I always thought a block was the distance between two streets, but I’ve learned it can also be a building with multiple rooms, apartments or offices.)
The earliest stores to occupy the Lacy Block’s first floor were Griffin Bros. hardware on the west and Lake & Boaz, a furniture store, on the east.
Although the west store went through several owners and name changes, it’s never been anything but a hardware store, from the time Griffin Bros. opened in January 1889, until Kirk’s closed this year.
The east store has a more diverse history. Besides being a furniture store, it’s also been a used car dealership, a bowling alley and several different theaters. The Logan Theatre had the longest run — from 1932 to 1956. (I still find it hard to picture a theater in that narrow room.)
From 1959 to 1984, it was a Sears catalog store. The Linden Tree has occupied that space since the 1990s.
I must admit, I got a little disoriented when the tour moved upstairs because there aren’t just three floors. There’s a half floor between the first and second floors, and another between the second and third floors.
I haven’t found any mention of those half floors in the early newspapers, so I’m inclined to think they were later additions.
When the building opened, the second floor was used for office space. One of the first tenants was the newspaper, the Democrat. Other initial renters were the law firms of Kane & Davis and Booth & Potter.
The whole third floor belonged to Bernice Lodge, No. 120, of the Knights of Pythias. Organized in 1884, the lodge moved into their new castle hall in the Lacy Block in February, 1889.
Even in its current state of disrepair, it’s easy to see why the Democrat referred to the K. of P. lodge as “one of the finest halls in the state.” The huge ballroom has a decorative tin ceiling and walls. It would be gorgeous once restored.
In 1952, Noblesville’s new Boys Club took over ownership of the hall and did extensive remodeling. The elevator used as a private entrance by the K. of P.’s Chancellor Commander was torn out, the rear room was turned into a gym and various activities rooms were added.
The Boys Club moved out in 1970. The third floor has been empty since then.
Thanks to Christopher Nurnberger for the tour!
Paula Dunn’s From Time to Thyme column appears on Wednesdays in The Times. Contact her at [email protected]