Evans Lumber Company
This family-owned and operated lumber and hardware store witnessed most of South Charleston's first century of development, becoming a city landmark and pillar of the local business community. Known since 1963 for the giant paint can model that perched atop the hardware store's roof, it was often referenced by locals for giving directions. The paint can was removed in 2015, three years after the business and building were sold.
Backstory and Context
When the Great Depression hit in 1929, the rest of the lumber company's investors dropped out and Evans was able to buy out the remaining stock of the company. He and his three sons (Everett, Pat, and Leslie) kept the business running through the Great Depression, and after passing through this crucible, the name of the business was officially changed to Evans Lumber in 1940. Evans was no stranger to South Charleston--born across the river in Charleston in 1892, he'd gotten his start working in one of South Charleston's original industrial endeavors: the Dunkirk Glass factory.
The 1940s saw upgrades and expansions for Evans Lumber, with the addition of a sawmill on the premises (which later moved up the Elk River north of Clendenin) and a remodel to their office building late in the decade. They soon began to acquire timberland in several counties, accumulating roughly 6,000 acres to service the sawmill and supply the store. Most of the land has since been sold to the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources.
As the city's major retail supplier of building materials, Evans Lumber was at the heart of the development of South Charleston, and involved either directly or indirectly with the construction of many of its present-day homes--all while still under the ownership of Gus Evans's sons. Eventually, grandson Don Evans also joined the family business.
Time and circumstance caught up with the iconic business, however, as large nationwide hardware chains like Home Depot and Lowe's began to soak up much of the retail hardware market in the 1990s and 2000s. Despite joining the Do-It Best franchise to expand its retail options, Evans Lumber shuttered its doors in 2012, and its remaining stock of lumber was donated to a non-profit charity, Storehouse West Virginia. The landmark paint can sculpture atop the retail building, which had been in place since 1963, remained for another 3 years, eventually being removed after new tenant Ferguson Waterworks occupied the building in 2015. The paint can is currently in the possession of the City of South Charleston.
2. The History of South Charleston. Edition 2008. Charleston, WV. The Printing Press Ltd., 2008.pp.105, et al.
3. Romano, Judy Bowen. South Charleston. Images of America. Charleston, South Carolina. Arcadia Publishing, 2011.
4. Hodousek, Carrie. "Iconic paint can removed from roof in South Charleston." MetroNews(South Charleston), March 27, 2015. http://wvmetronews.com/2015/03/27/iconic-paint-can-removed-from-roof-in-south-charleston/
5. Evans Lumber Donation. Believe in WV. April 02, 2012. Accessed December 05, 2017. http://www.believeinwv.org/evans-lumber-donation.