15th and Silver streets, looking West – 1885
This is one of the earliest photos the Ashland Historical Society has of Ashland. This picture would have been taken sometime between 1880 when the Exchange Hotel was built and 1887 when it burned down. The hotel is the grand building on the upper left in the picture, the site of the present post office. It had about 25 rooms to rent as well as a dining room and sitting rooms. Charges were $2.00 a day which included meals. An 1873 registry from the hotel is on view at the Ashland History Museum.
The next building is the Balder Grocery Store established in 1883 when John Balder came from Germany. The building was replaced by a brick structure which today is owned and preserved by Kim and Lynn Cooper of Cooper Studio and Gallery.
Furniture stores were an important business in every new town. Settlers came to town with a few choice items stowed in their wagons. They needed to add chairs and tables and beds. Silas H. Nichols owned the furniture store on the northwest corner of 15th and Silver streets. He operated it from 1869 until 1903. Mr. Nichols was a mortician so he also sold coffins. This wooden building was replaced by the present brick building in 1903 and it is now home of Salt Creek Mercantile.
Across 15th Street to the east of the furniture store is Cheap John’s, a general merchandise and grocery business. It was torn down in 1889 when the National Bank was built there with a barber shop in the lower level and Dr. J. M. Moss’s office on the second floor.
This is a winter or early spring picture and piles of snow kept buggies from parking in front of the furniture store though numerous horse-drawn buggies are parked in the block from 14th to 15th streets. The freezing snow kept the streets passable which on a warmer day might have been muddy messes.
For more information on other items from Ashland’s history, visit the Ashland History Museum at 205 N. 15th St., Ashland. The museum is open on Thursdays from 1 to 4 p.m. and by appointment.