By Carol Mowdy Bond
The Mulvey Mercantile Company, 425 West Main Street, was built in 1904. The building is on the U.S. National Registry of Historic Places. Sadly, the building currently sits empty and is under foreclosure.
By 1890, Odey V. Mulvey, aka Owen or Odie, his twin brother Michael V. Mulvey, aka Mike, and Allie Mulvey, were living in Oklahoma Territory. The twins were 30 years-old that year, and Allie was 21. All three were born in Virginia.
When Odie and Mike moved to Yukon in 1893, they bought a small grocery store, including the stock of groceries, belonging to C.H. Hannum. The business was located on the south side of Main Street. They transformed the grocery into their own, and they remained on the south side of Main until 1904. That’s when their new building at 425 W. Main Street was completed, on the north side of the street. Apparently, their move from the old location to the new location was a historic event at the time.
Putting this on a historical timeline, brothers Harry and George Bass arrived in 1895 from Ohio, and set up their mercantile business on the southeast corner of 5th and Main streets. They built their beautiful two-story Bass Building in 1898, and it still graces that corner.
But the Mulvey Building is the Grand Dame of architecture on Yukon’s original strip of Main Street. Apparently, no expense was spared when the building was constructed. The Mulvey brothers did well, and their business eventually covered half of the north side of Main Street. The architecture at 425 W. Main still towers over other shops on the street. The two-story red brick building has a roof line that is stepped with a gabled pediment. The red brick is inlaid with lighter colored outlines.
Mulvey’s has a recessed entry way. Across the flooring in front of the store, before entering the door, are turn-of-the-century white tiles with black tiles spelling out MULVEY MERCANTILE CO. The metal awning still has the original pressed tin ceiling tiles.
From the outside, what is considered the Mulvey’s Building, and the business immediately on the east, appear as though they were built as one seamless building. And there is an interior fire door going from one to the other.
The Mulvey brothers were very active in town government. And in 1893, Odie’s wife was an area teacher. She was involved in an endeavor whereby Yukon and surrounding areas combined efforts to create a three-room school house.
The Mulvey brothers expanded, building another Mulvey Mercantile, which was the first brick building in Piedmont. It is now occupied by The Olde Store, 100 Monroe Avenue Northwest in Piedmont. The original, interior pressed tin ceiling tiles are still in place, as is the original wood flooring.
Seems the Mulveys were savvy businessmen who were operating a lucrative emporium, or early day mall. From 1910 to 1920, the Mulvey Mercantile in Yukon mushroomed into a major enterprise. The Mulveys sold groceries, all kinds of dry goods, furniture, appliances, and hardware. They offered repairs and they also offered an embalming service. Through the years, their business included a millinery or hat shop, a blacksmith shop, and the sale of large farm implements. The business was the largest retailer in Yukon until the 1930s.
When grain binders were first on the market, the Mulveys bought 150 grain binders, bringing them in by train. They sold all of them, and then created a celebration. The Mulveys invited everyone to a big barbecue event with music. They hosted a parade, with all of the farmers using their best horses to pull their binders.