Saturday, May 30, 2015

The Crozier desk comes upstairs

J. T. Crozier opened his general merchandise store in a rickety old frame building on the southeast corner of Chariton's square during 1886. During 1894, the Daniel Eikenberry estate decided a new building was in order.

As a result, the frame building was moved into the street so that business could continue as usual and the fine double-front two-story Richardson Romanesque-style brick building that still stands there was constructed.

J.T. moved into the new building and continued in business there until his death during 1936, at which time his son and daughter, Robert and Mary Crozier, became partners in the store, which they operated until retirement in 1974.

During all those years, this fine accountant's desk was the nerve center of the operation --- the central processing unit of its day; everything from ordering to balancing the books at the end of each day's business was done here.

Mary and Robert donated the desk to the Lucas County Historical Society when they retired --- and it's been part of the museum collection since, displayed in a lower-level gallery and somewhat obscured by crowded conditions there.

But this week, it moved upstairs and for the foreseeable future at least will be one of the first things visitors see when they enter the Lewis Building.

The date we have for the desk from the Croziers is 1870. If that date is accurate, then it arrived in Chariton before J.T. did. He didn't come to town until 1878. Whatever the case, it's a wonderful piece of furniture.

The desk seems to be walnut and is in near-perfect condition. The small drawer at far left originally locked, as the drawer on the right still does. At some point, the back of the drawer front that held the lock in place splintered and a porcelain knob was substituted. The working part of the lock on the right-hand door is missing, too, so it tends to fall open now and then.

Other than that, it's perfect --- down to the stretcher worn by countless feet resting on it while books were kept on the gently sloping desktop.

One of the reasons for the move is the fact we're due soon to receive the big roll-top desk once used in the old Oakley store. It will take the Crozier desk's place in the lower level display because the post office setup from the Oakley store already is there.

The museum now is open summer hours --- from 1 to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. Admission's free. Come on out and take a look.

The Crozier Store occupied the south half of the building at far right from 1894 until 1974 --- 80 years.

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