Emmons-Hawkins Hardware Company
The Emmons-Hawkins Hardware Company was a longtime business in downtown Huntington. It was incorporated in 1899 after undergoing a series of different partnerships and name changes since the store was originally founded by C.F. Parsons in 1871. The company operated for many years as both a retail and wholesale establishment, with salesmen traveling throughout the region, until the retail business was ended in 1941. In 1970, the company went out of business and the building was demolished by the Huntington Urban Renewal Authority. Mack & Dave's, a department store selling new and used goods, operated in its place from 1974 until its closure in 2016. The nearly one-block long building remains vacant as of 2019.
Backstory and Context
In 1871, the same year that Huntington was founded, C.F. Parsons purchased a plot of land at Third Avenue and Ninth Street and opened a hardware store. One of the city’s first businesses, the company that Parsons founded would stay in business for nearly a century, although it underwent several name and ownership changes along the way. Twelve years after Parsons opened his store, he entered a partnership with his only son, W.E. Parsons. After C.F. Parsons’ death, his son partnered with Carlton D. Emmons and the store became known as Parsons and Emmons Hardware. The company underwent yet another change when W.E. Parsons retired and Emmons partnered with B.W. Marr. In 1891, Marr retired and Emmons became partners with J.L. Hawkins. At this time, the company’s title changed for the final time to Emmons and Hawkins Hardware Company, and it was incorporated under this name on August 18, 1899.
The business changed locations in 1896, relocating to 1022-1032 Third Avenue. This location, which included a retail store, offices, and a warehouse, would house the business for the next seventy-four years. Carlton D. Emmons served as president of the company until his death in December 1937, and Mathias W. Dugan became president thereafter. J.L. Hawkins was elected vice president and treasurer and remained in that position until his retirement in 1946. The company operated as both a wholesale and retail hardware store, with salesmen who went out into the Huntington “jobbing” area. In 1944, the company decided to focus solely on the wholesale aspect of its business, thereby disposing of the retail side. At the time, Emmons-Hawkins was Huntington’s premier wholesaler of general hardware, building supplies, plumbing and electrical fixtures, household appliances, paint, and other industrial supplies. By 1947, the company had sixteen traveling salesmen covering parts of West Virginia, eastern Kentucky, and southern Ohio. Emmons-Hawkins Hardware Company was eventually regarded as the largest wholesale hardware company between Pittsburgh and Cincinnati.
In 1970, the company closed its doors and sold its inventory to an out-of-town buyer. The building was sold to the Huntington Urban Renewal Authority, who demolished it as a part of Huntington’s urban renewal plan that cleared out a large portion of the city’s downtown. In its place, a new building was erected to house Mack & Dave's, a department store that sold a mix of new and old merchandise. After 67 years in business, David Cohen, one of the co-founders of the business, announced in 2016 that the store would be closing. Glenn's, a sporting goods store, is the only store still remaining open on the block as of 2019.
Casto, James E.. Lost Huntington: Emmons-Hawkins Hardware. The Herald-Dispatch. August 25, 2014. Accessed May 03, 2017. http://www.herald-dispatch.com/special/lost_huntington/lost-huntington-emmons-hawkins-hardware/article_a31c718b-a91c-5bf2-844a-c4f8042d3aa3.html.
Dickinson, Jack L. and Alison K. Summer-Ramirez. Historic Huntington Businesses: The Birth of Huntington, W.Va. 1871-1900. Huntington, WV: Marshall University Libraries, 2016.
Mendez, Josephine. Huntington Retail Fixture Mack & Dave's to Close. The Herald-Dispatch. November 18, 2016. Accessed May 03, 2016. http://www.herald-dispatch.com/news/huntington-retail-fixture-mack-dave-s-to-close/article_a3a47021-33ec-5dac-8aae-4635a3a9125f.html.
Wallace, George Selden. Huntington Through Seventy-Five Years. Huntington, WV. 1947.