By RUTH MORGAN
For the Oktibbeha County Heritage Museum
The building at 123 Main Street has quite a story to tell. If only these brick could speak, they would tell of the stories of the many occupants down through the years. At the time of the great fire of 1875, John Beattie owned a store on the north corner of Main and Lafayette Streets. The Merchants and Farmers Bank incorporated March 13, 1908. The first officers were Jas. W. Norment, president; Jno. B. Kinnard, vice president; and A. F. Rush, Jr. Cashier. Directors were Jas H. Smith, Geo. S. Turner, Horace Cunningham, J. J. Gill, Jno. B. Kinnard and Jas. W. Norment. Henry H. Reynolds signed the document as Notary Public.
Oct. 9, 1908 M&F had an article which read, “I am young but watch me grow! Just four months old today. We are told by some of our friends that their personal accounts are so small and are checked against so frequently that same would be of no value to us. We want to be the judge of that. Don’t let that deter you from doing business with us for the small account has the same careful attention as the larger ones received. We want you as a patron. Why not give us a trial? Every security is offered and every precaution has been taken. Officers are bonded. We carry Hold-Up, Burglary and Fire Insurance. Safety Deposit Boxes for rent.”
The Starkville Directory of 1928 shows eleven occupants in the M&F Building. Merchants and Farmers Bank and A. W. Reynolds Real Estate and Oil Leases occupied the first floor. Joe W. Rice, Attorney; James Lock, chiropractor; Henry H. Reynolds Insurance; H. A. Beattie Real Estate and Insurance; R. H. Lampkin Insurance; and Scales Insurance occupied the second floor. Linney and Nueman Barber Shop, Starkville Publishing Company, and The Starkville News occupied the basement.
Since that time phone books and photos of downtown, show that Callahan’s Beauty Shop was on the boardwalk for many years, a photo shows Shirley’s Beauty Shop and Western Auto Associate Store located there. C. E. Newman’s Barber Shop was located in the basement for 50 years. Others say a U.S. Post Office was also there. George Sherman had his first store in the basement. And there were probably a lot more.
The officers of M&F Bank in 1929 were G. Odie Daniel, President; and Director, R. P. Washington, Vice President; and director, and D. E. Slaughter, cashier and director; J. W. Kennard, assistant cashier; Mrs. C. F. Crigler, assistant cashier; and Clyde McCreight, bookkeeper. Directors were C. F. Briscoe, Jessie F. Reed and L.M. Joyner.
Don and Carolyn Sullivan, along with their children, Linda and Terry, came to Starkville in 1960 from Eupora and opened their business initially on South Lafayette Street. After less than a year, the Sullivan’s were able to relocate to 224 Main on the corner of Main and Jackson Street next to United Food Market.
The Sullivan’s sold office supplies, machines and furniture. They were selected by the A. B. Dick Machine Company as their dealer for Oktibbeha, Clay and Lowndes counties. Sullivan’s also specialized in office furniture, representing companies such as Jasper Desk, Cosco, Anderson Hickey and others, as well as engraved wedding invitations, signs and rubber stamps. Don Sullivan was factory trained in servicing all office machines, typewriters, adding machines and duplicators.
In 1970, Sullivan’s purchased the 123-25 Main Street building (the old Merchants and Farmers Bank) from Mr. Wilburn Sudduth. After some major interior renovation which included the removal of brick bank vaults and portions of brick walls, to make the building more “retail friendly,” Sullivan’s Office Supply opened in this location and remained there until 1989. Sullivan’s Office Supply for furniture, supplies and back-up merchandise occupied some or all of the three floors in the building. Boardwalk Beauty Salon, Newman’s Barber Shop, Candles and Such were among other tenants in the building. Another portion of the building located on the ground floor was rented to Hal Wilson from Eupora to open a men’s shoppe—“The Down Under.” Hal’s family owned and operated a department store in Eupora. George Sherman was working with Hal when Hal passed away in a tragic car accident. George then purchased the “Down Under” from the Wilson’s and grew the business into the success we know today—George Sherman Clothiers.
After George moved his business up onto Main Street several other tenants such as Charles Yoste Attorney, Larry Bost Advertising and more recently EY Studies Graphics/Website Designers occupied this ground floor space. In the mid-1980s a fire destroyed the Mullins Under the Hill store and Sullivan’s purchased this lot to provide off-street parking for employees of the 123 Main tenants from Sonny Mullins.
In 1976, their daughter, Linda, opened her business, Main Hair Designers at the end of the walkway on the east side of the building. Linda had received training at many of the nation’s leading hair stylist schools such as Vidal Sassoon Hair Training Center in San Francisco and Bruno’s School of Hair Design of Toronto, Canada. Their son, Terry, began attending machine service training schools at an early age from manufacturers such as Royal Typewriter, Smith Corona and Victor. Terry is now a leading sales representative for United Stationers Supply Co. (USSCO) and his territory includes Sullivan’s Office Supply in Starkville. USSCO is the Nation’s largest supplier to independently owned office supply stores. Although Don Sullivan died in 2001, Carolyn has been a guiding steward for the business from the very start and is still very active in the daily operation, specializing in décor, advertising and bookkeeping. Steve Langston, general manager, joined the business in 1970 and became full-time upon graduation from MSU in 1973.
Sullivan’s Office Supply having outgrown the 123 Main building, relocated in 1989 to its current location at 204 Main. This opened up space in the building for retail businesses such as: The Factory Connection and ERA. Carolyn, Don, Linda, Steve and their children, Lorin and Tyson, to bring back the beauty and character of its original design, have restored the building. The original cast iron columns were reclaimed as well as windows, coal burning fireplaces, wood floors and beaded board ceilings. Currently the building’s bottom floor is used as office/professional spaces, the second floor (main street level) is used as Polka Tots Children’s Store and Main Hair Designers (although Linda retired 10 years ago). The third floor serves as a studio apartment and offers the finest in downtown living with 3 bedrooms, 21/2 baths and a stunning view of downtown. The wood floors, doors, ceilings and walls are all original construction and the building was selected as a local preservation award in 2002. Tyson and Natalie Langston occupy the apartment. Tyson is the son of Linda and Steve and the grandson of Carolyn Sullivan. The entire building is an example of today’s downtown properties across the nation.
Carolyn, Steve, Linda, Lorin and Tyson have always had a deep respect for the downtown area and are glad to have had an opportunity to restore such a unique property.
Dr. Chester McKee remembers...
Ruth - How well I remember the Merchant’s and Farmers Bank: I lost $50 dollars when it closed in 1932. My father had decided that as I turned five years old in 1928 it was time to teach me a lesson on saving money so he opened a savings account for me at the M & F Bank with a deposit of $50, quite a large sum in those days. I received that nice little bank book with the picture of the bank embossed on the cover and put in my pocket to brag to my friends how rich I was. Then came the big stock market crash of 1929 followed by the great depression and the “bank holiday” of 1932. The Security State Bank under president Mr. Wirt Carpenter and the People’s Savings Bank under president Mr. Walter Page reopened but the M & F Bank with president Mr. S. W. Slaughter never reopened. The lesson learned during that time was, “don’t risk your money in stock or other investments.” I don’t remember anything about the other businesses in the building, but I had many a haircut from Mr. Charlie Neuman in his shop “down under.” Later in high school, those of us that worked on the High Jacket learned much about the production of newspapers from Mr. Floyd Johnson who ran the Linotype machine and set type for Grady Imes and the weekly Starkville News that was also located in the basement. The Slaughters were good friends and also owned the Slaughter Chevrolet Company located in the building at the northeast corner of Lafayette Street and Lampkin Street. The shop and garage was in the basement and the ramp up to Lampkin Street is still there. I well remember when my Dad bought a new Chevy with an amazing self-starter instead of the crank in 1928. Mr. Gus Hogan the salesman for Mr. Slaughter drove that shiny beautiful car up the ramp to us. The McKee’s never drove anything but Chevrolets bought from the Slaughters. My first dog was a gift from “Miss Lily” Slaughter, a German shepherd I named Rags. The Slaughter’s son, Billy, was the Starkville Fire Chief for years and managed the auto business continuing after it moved to the Lampkin/South Montgomery location. Thanks for bringing back fun memories!
Larry Bost remembers...
I leased office space for my business, Larry Bost Advertising, in “The Place at the Foot of the Stairs,” as I liked to call it, in the basement of 123 Main in the eighties. As my business grew, Don and Carolyn Sullivan and Steve and Linda Langston tried to accommodate my company’s every need. The original office suite had been a retail store complete with ample shelving and a bay window and they were proud of the architectural significance of the building. They helped maintain that integrity in our expansion — exposed brick, archways . . . I loved working in that environment and seeing the Langstons and Sullivans almost every day.