From lumber to art to drive-up banking

Hannah Gross

Photo courtesy of Leonard Cash

A historical photo of the C.A. Ward Lumber Company building.


Hannah Gross

NLJ Correspondent

With Leonard Cash, historian


For the past couple of weeks, Leonard Cash has been going down South Seneca Avenue for his series on the various odds and ends shops that once occupied that area. Today, he wraps up the series by discussing one last building, which is now just an empty lot where the former Pinnacle Bank drive-thru was located next to the A-1 agency, at 20 S. Seneca, once home to the Ward Lumber Co.

Cash starts off with an article from the Aug. 4, 1927, edition of the News Letter Journal, which reported that Charles A. Ward of Sturgis was preparing the ground at the site, which he bought from George Halterman, for his soon-to-be lumber company. A survey was made for a large scale to be installed. The article said a lumber stock was much needed in town, and “people generally will be glad to see Mr. Ward established in business here.”

According to the April 2, 1938, paper, the Ward Lumber Co. started working on a new addition to the already “up-to-date” building to create an 86-foot front. The new division would be used as a “much needed” storeroom.

A few months later, an article from July 21, 1938, announced that the building was almost completed, including the “attractive 65-foot brick front with large windows.” The old part of the office was remodeled to match the new. The following issue reported that the lumber company officially moved into its new office.  

By March 9, 1939, the Ward Lumber Co. roof was practically completed and the lathing was underway.

After 19 years of business, Ward sold the company to his son Howard around March 14, 1946. He was retiring but “would still make this city home and attend to other interests in and around Newcastle.”

The July 25, 1946, issue announced that the building was being remodeled for a new counter, and the entire store was repainted, cleaned and varnished at 20 S. Seneca.

Two years later, a news report from March 18, 1948, said that Howard and his wife had a project to build seven new homes, which were to include two bedrooms and a full basement. Additionally, six of the homes were to also have garages.  

Cash also wanted to include Ward’s obituary, which appeared in the Dec. 6, 1951, paper, to give more insight into the man who started this company. He was a businessman for 20 years when he passed away at age 76 in Spearfish. Ward was born on June 7, 1875, in Aurora, Colorado, and “was baptized a Christian by his mother who was too far removed from a priest to have this sacrament performed in due course of time except by her own hands,” the obituary commented.

Ward moved to the South Dakota area when he was still young, his family settling on land around Blackhawk. He moved to Newcastle in 1927 to start his lumber company. 

“During the 20 years that followed, ‘C.A.’ proved himself a solid citizen whose business principals (sic) were respected and admired throughout all northeastern Wyoming,” the obituary says. 

He retired in 1948 and moved to Spearfish to look after his ranch in the Devils Tower area until he passed away due to illness in his heart.

A few years after his death, the company decided to erect a new building across the railroad tracks on 326 W. Main, according to the Sept. 16, 1954, issue of the News Letter. Construction began on a 50-foot-by-60-foot store building, including lumber storage shields. 

By Feb. 3, 1955, they started to move into their new building, and on Feb. 24, 1955, the paper announced that the lumber company was hosting its grand opening two days later from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Around Sept. 13, 1962, Howard Ward sold the store to Burt Smith, who renamed it Foster Lumber Co. 

“I wish to express my sincere appreciation to my many fine friends for their years of patronage. I urge your continued patronage of the Foster Lumber Co.” Howard said. 

In the same issue of the paper, Smith published
an advertisement. 

“We plan to carry a full line of building materials and hope to give you the prompt, courteous service which has been our trade mark for the past 84 years,” the ad says. 

An article from Dec. 26, 1968, announced that Foster Lumber Co. merged with another company to be known as the LMF Corporation.

After 13 years, the Aug. 21, 1975, paper, reported that Smith was assuming a new managerial position with the Foster Lumber Co. in Gillette. Duane Johnson took over as manager in Newcastle. 

By March 24, 1979, Foster Lumber Co. merged again. This time with Diamond International Corporation, whose central regional offices were in Boulder. They had an extensive lumber yard in the U.S., so the merger expanded the market for the Foster Co. 

That is the last of Cash’s records on the lumber company, but the building still stands today and is home to True Value Hardware. 

Last week, we briefly discussed the Newcastle Saddlery on 26 S. Seneca, but some of its history intertwines with 20 S. Seneca, so Cash included more information on the saddlery this week. According to the Nov. 20, 1947, edition of the paper, George Wade sold his shoe shop and saddlery to R.C. Donaldson. A few years later, an article from Dec. 29, 1955, reported that Donaldson sold the business to Doug Howell.

On Jan. 18, 1961, the paper stated that city crew members were installing 14 additional parking meters in town, including one in front of
the saddlery.

It was announced in the March 4, 1965, issue that the saddlery was closing out, so it was having its final close-out sale that week, where “no reasonable offer refused.”

We find out from a report March 18, 1965, that Doug Howell sold the shoe repair equipment to Ivan King, where it was to be located west of Newcastle. However, by July 17, 1968, the saddlery portion of the company was moved to the former Ward Lumber
Co. building.

This building was also once the office for Farm Bureau Insurance, but around Sept. 26, 1974, Mary Lou Meyer was planning to open a gallery there called Wagon Wheel Art. The gallery was to have original works of carving, sculpting, decorator items, antiques and “other special interest items.”

By Feb. 12, 1975, Meyer had officially opened Wagon Wheel Art.

Three years later, the Nov. 30, 1978, issue announced that the Kalico Kupboard, which was owned by Cindy Caillier and Becky Martens (now Decker), was celebrating its one-year anniversary with a sale and the grand opening of Krazy Klozet. Although, at the time, it was located on 127 S. Railroad, they were planning to move the shop the next spring.

Plans went as expected because according to the June 14, 1979, paper, they were cleaning out the Klozet at Kupboard, and by Aug. 9, 1979, they had their grand opening as the Kalico Kupboard and Wedding Chalet in the building on 20 S. Seneca.

The July 15, 1982, issue of the News Letter Journal reported that the National Bank of Newcastle was constructing a new drive-up banking facility at 20 S. Seneca. Bank President Russel Knight announced that the contract was awarded to MAC Construction of Rapid City for $137,000.

MAC Construction started off by tearing down the old brick building, which at the time was between TOCO and the alley next to A1-Agency. The drive-thru was to be located at street level with entrances featuring two remote teller stations, as well as room for a third station. Each station was to have enough space for four vehicles to be in line. Nine customer parking spaces were to be available on the same level, and employee parking was located on a lower level. The bank drive-up and parking lot measured 100 feet by
85 feet.

By July 22, 1982, the demolition began. That is the final article in Cash’s records on these Seneca buildings, but the drive-thru banking system continued to be used by Pinnacle Bank before Pinnacle constructed its new building on 1401 Washington Blvd. Today, the lot still has the drive-thru meters, but it remains unused.  

Concluding the series on Seneca, Cash will dive into the history of the Chief Hotel
next week.



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