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History Detective JIM: The Royal Cafe, Coffey Building located

Historical detective work on the location of L.M. Young's soda fountain and ice cream parlor (later the Royal Cafe), 1916-1938. JIM has now located it. You have to read the full article for the answer. Test yourself to see if you knew. I didn't, but the answer was my second guess - ED WAGGENER
See also:
Jim: The sign in the window
Query: What business occupies the 1916-1944 Coffey Building?

By Jim

The building to which reference was made as the Coffey Building in the Royal Cafe article was put up at the same time as the Jones Block, now occupied in the main by Red Brick Studio, and the Conover Hotel, remembered now as the New Adair. At the time construction began in the spring of 1898, the firm of Coffey, Hughes & Nell (J.N. "Newt" Coffey, E.H. "Ed" Hughes, and George Nell) held ownership. In November 1898 or thereabout Mr. Nell sold his interest in the firm to the other two partners and within weeks, James Johnston (better known as J.J.) Hunter joined and the firm's name was styled as Hughes, Coffey & Hunter.


By February or early March 1899, the establishment was up and running in the recently completed building with a partial stock of goods, the owners solemnly pledging to open a spring line of general merchandise as soon as it became available. Meanwhile, Mrs. Emma Strange had moved her millinery shop to the upper floor of the building quarters in January.

Later, Mr. Hunter dropped out, exact date unknown but likely at the end of 1900, as the last ad under the name Hughes, Coffey & Hunter appeared in the January 2, 1901 edition of the paper. E.H.'s younger brother James D. Hughes joined the firm in late 1905 and the name changed to Hughes, Coffey & Co.

Come the forepart of 1912, E.H., who had been associated with the First National Bank of Columbia since its inception in 1903, and his brother James decided to move to Texas. Days prior to this move, the Hughes brothers sold their respective interests in the enterprise to their partner, J.N. Coffey. In turn, Mr. Coffey formed a new partnership with his son-law-law of seven years, J.F. Patteson.

In May 1916, in reporting about Mr. L.M. Young opening his "first-class soda fountain and an ice cream parlor," the News spoke thus of his location (the added emphasis is mine):

"His place of business will be in the same building that Mr. J.F. Patteson conducts a general store. The main [street level] room was extra wide, and Mr. J.N. Coffey, who owns the building, had a petition (sic; should be "partition") run through the room, making two business apartments. Mr. Patterson will continue at the same stand, and Mr. Young will occupy the extra room made by running the petition (sic)."

In short, it was one building with two street-level businesses accessible directly from the square. Mr. Young's soda fountain and ice cream parlor, later the Royal Cafe under both Mr. Young and a succession of other owners, occupied the one of the two areas until Herschel Taylor moved the operation in 1938. Immediately after that, the space was occupied for two years by Ralph Bolin's Radio and Electric Shop and by jeweler Earl M. Conover. Just before the latter-named gentleman volunteered for the Army and closed up shop at the end of 1940, Mr. Bolin sold his business to Joe and Jack Holladay, who ran the establishment for a few months. The last mention of Holladay Electric appeared in early July 1941; by Labor Day that year, the brothers held employment in Charlestown, Indiana.

Little direct mention of Mr. Taylor's same-building, across-the-partition neighbor appeared after J.F. Patteson sold his stock of goods to his father-in-law, J.N. Coffey, in January 1917. However, Ruth Paull Burdette, in writing of buildings fronting on the square ("Early Columbia," 1974, p 12), stated that "Ed Hughes and Newt Coffey built where the Men's Shop is," referring to the long-running business established in the 1920s by Mr. H. (Herbert, not to be confused with Herschel) Taylor, J.N. Coffey's other son-in-law.

Thus, the location of the Royal Cafe is pinpointed, as is the long-questioned second site of the Parlor Circle (soon renamed the Paramount) Theater. Just days after Mr. Young opened his stand in the spring of 1916, the News reported that

"The Parlor Circle will be removed from its present location to the second story of the building in which Mr. J.F. Patteson and Mr. L.M. Young are now doing business. The apartment is much larger and the ceiling higher than at the present location. Workmen are now elevating the floor and making other alterations necessary for the show business."


This story was posted on 2018-08-08 11:36:44
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