Thursday, February 18, 2016

Cousin Albert Dent's big window on the square

I think Cousin Albert would be gratified to know that the north-side storefront he commissioned in 1893 for his A.E. Dent & Co. Dry Goods store is going to look more like it did originally once restoration, which moved into high gear this week, is complete.

This is how the upper facade looked Wednesday, after facing brick had been removed as the first step in replacing a low 1960-ish replacement window in the upper facade with a taller and larger window that resembles this original. Restoration of the building's elaborate cast-metal cornice also will be part of the project. 

The building, which now houses Adam Bahr's Edward Jones office on its ground floor, is one of several around the square under restoration this winter as a facade improvement program financed by a mix of federal, owner and city funding advances.

The old Dent building is part of a three-front structure known as the Brown Block, after Joseph A. Brown, the Chariton entrepreneur who funded construction of its eastern two-thirds.

Herald, Nov. 15, 1893
Here's how it looked (in the center of this photo) shortly after construction and, no, I don't know what the occasion for a parade was, although it might have been related to the 1894 dedication of the new Lucas County Courthouse just to the south. The rest of the Brown Block is not part of the current round of facade improvements. Each of its three sections is owned separately.

Before the Brown Block was constructed, there were three two-story wood-frame buildings on this site, just east of the north-side alley. The Dent building's predecessor had for many years housed the dry goods store of A.E. Dent's father-in-law, David D. Waynick.


David D. Waynick was one of Chariton's founders --- he arrived in 1849, the same year the town was located and first platted.

His son-in-law, Albert Dent, arrived in 1875 at the tail end of a family migration from Belmont County, Ohio, that began just after the Civil War when my great-great-grandmother, Eliza Jane (Brown) Dent-Chynoweth and her second husband, Joseph Turner Chynoweth, arrived. They brought with them my great-grandfather, Cassius M.C. Dent, Eliza's only surviving child from her first marriage, to George Asa Dent. Joseph Chynoweth's aged parents, William and Bridget (Turner) Chynoweth, came along, too.

Albert, as these complex relationships sometimes go, was both a cousin of Cassius Dent and a nephew of Joseph Chynoweth (Albert's parents were Joseph's sister, Emily Chynoweth, and her husband, William Young Dent). Other Chynoweth siblings settled here, too --- and it probably was at the urging of his Chynoweth aunts and uncles, as well as grandparents, that Albert decided to seek his fortune in the West at the age of 23.


Upon arrival in Chariton, Albert immediately found a job as clerk in David Waynick's northside dry goods store and during September of 1879 married the boss's daughter --- Orilla Ann Waynick; generally a useful thing to do.

Soon thereafter, Albert and Orilla were dispatched to the small Wayne County town of Cambria to open a satellite store, and Albert became a partner in a firm known as Waynick & Dent.

David Waynick, unfortunately, fell off a ladder while making repairs to his home in northeast Chariton during the early summer of 1883 --- and died some weeks later, on June 29, of complications from his injuries. He was only 56.

As a result, Albert and Orilla moved back to Chariton and took over full-time management of the Waynick store which, by 1886, they owned outright.

Albert seems to have been a very good manager and by 1893 was in need of bigger quarters for the store. He reached an agreement with Joseph A. Brown, who owned the two somewhat rickety frame buildings just east of the Waynick store and the Brown Block was the result. Joseph Brown's two storefronts formed a pair, three identical second-floor windows marching across the facades of both. Albert and Orilla made their storefront distinctive by commissioning a large single window with elaborate cast-metal surround for the second-floor of their storefront.

What now was the Dent store evacuated its old quarters during the spring of 1893, moving to a room in the Maple building down the street to the west. The old building was demolished and the new block arose during the summer of 1893. A.E. Dent & Co. moved into its new quarters during November of 1893, just in time for the Christmas season.

Although this "clearing sale" adverisement is from a year later, it gives a good idea of just what sort of stock was available at a quality dry goods store of that era.


Albert and Orilla prospered mightily during the 1890s and, with other family members, began to invest in land in the West, particularly in the vicinity of Spokane, Washington.

They liked the country out there and during 1903 decided to make a ranch they owned near Spokane their permanent home. A.E. Dent & Co. was sold during September of 1903 to a new firm called the Chariton Dry Goods Co., owned by several investors and managed by George A. Israel.

Prior to Christmas, Albert, Orilla and their three children --- Daisy, Blanche and Donald --- had moved to Washington.

Albert E. Dent died during 1936 at age 84 in Seattle; Orilla, during 1941, also in Seattle at the age of 83.

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