The Landau legacy on Market Street


MARY LOU MONTGOMERY

When Adolph and Jacob Landau first arrived in Hannibal, they settled in at the Marion House, 162 Market Street, for lodging. Not long afterwards – by 1895 - the brothers from Poland had established themselves in a dry goods operation just a few doors to the east of the popular boarding house, at 152 Market.

Welcome to Hannibal’s West End. Many historic published stories make mention of this area of town, home to blue-collar workers and businesses that catered to their needs. The primary identifier of this part of town is the no-longer existing “wedge” of land created when Broadway Extension veered off to the north of Market Street, creating a unique topography that building designers took full advantage of. The buildings were constructed at angles within the wedge, fronting Market Street and backing up to Broadway Extension, which was a higher elevation. Second-floor apartments on Market Street, for example, were street level on Broadway. Below-grade sidewalks offered rear-entrance access to Market Street merchants.

Merchants

The businesses along the wedge were as varied as the merchants who opened shop along this corridor. 1895, businessman Byron A. Loomis, a yeast manufacturer, was a neighbor to the Landau brothers on Market Street, operating at 148 Market. In March of 1904, E.H. Parks of Monroe City leased the property. Parks was a traveling salesman for a china shop in Quincy, Ill., operated by Edward Sohm, William Weisenhorn, and Bernard Ricker.

One of the longest-standing merchants on Market Street was Herman G. Nerlich, who first opened his grocery and feed store on Market Street in 1865. In 1903, he was still in business at 254-256 Market.

In 1897, Fred.A. Waelder, born in 1864, a near life-long Hannibal resident, operated a drug store two doors west of the Landau store at 156 Market, and he and his family lived at the same address.

L. August Hofbauer operated a drug store across the street from the Waelder and Landau storefronts. Hofbauer’s establishment was at 143 Market. He was previously in partnership with his brother, Leopold.

Market Street

Market Street’s name was often mud, as far as the newsmedia was concerned. A brief notice in the Quincy Daily Herald on May 2, 1913, described the scene on the well-traveled road in 1883. “There was much mud on Market Street that a lady drops a hand satchel in the gutter, where it sinks beneath the surface and is not recovered even by an expert diver.”

The street still hadn’t been paved in May 1902, when a contractor got into a dispute with the city of Hannibal. The subject of the dispute was the excavating that was to be completed prior to paving, and the type of brick chosen by the contractor for the work.

The Landau Bros’s dry goods store was the target of several incidents which made the news.

In 1914, the store was burglarized. Taken were 25 tailor-made suits, 25 shirts, 12 coats, 16 men’s suits, 1 black traveling bag, 3 suit cases and a lot of loose silk.

In 1919, a touring car crashed into the front of the Landau store, breaking a large plate glass window. Occupants of the car were Duff Pritchett of Chicago, A.J. Engle of New London, and John Briscoe of Oakwood. A young woman was also in the vehicle at the time of the accident.

Landau building

The name “Landau” is still spelled out in round, black and white tiles on the stoop of the Landau’s original storefront, which is now numbered 1408 Market Street. The building, owned by Mike Crane of Hannibal, is the last standing of the interior wedge buildings.

Ray DeLaPorte operates Carpet Bagger, a resale shop, within the perimeters of 1408-10 Market. The building is, he believes, home to some friendly spirits. One in particular, he believes, is one of the Messrs. Landau, Ray said. "I had to stay down here all night because of a problem with the roof.” DeLaPorte was up and down the stairs during the night, and when he’d come back downstairs, “I would see him.”

Always standing in the same spot, on the main aisle facing the center stairs, is the image of a six-foot-tall man, wearing a black jacket and trousers, and a necktie around his shirt collar, sort of a string tied around in place of a tie.

Of particular interest is the derby-style hat the ghost-like figure is wearing.

DeLaPorte has a hat with “Landau Co.,” marking in the lining. And it looks just like the one he sees in his vision. “I paid a fortune for that hat, but I had to have it.”

The Landau Bros.

Adolph and Jacob lived together throughout their lives. Adolph got married and he and his wife had three children, including Dr. Daniel Landau, long-time Hannibal pediatrician. They resided at several locations in the downtown area, but their final residence was at 1112 Hill Street. The house, which is included within the National Register of Historic Places, was known as the Dr. Harry R. and Edith Neeper House, circa 1895.

Jacob Joseph Landau died Feb. 1, 1943. Adolph N. Landau, who was in business in Hannibal for 41 years, died in March 1936. Both are buried at Riverside Cemetery.

NOTE: Deena West Budd wrote a story for Y101 detailing the “spirits” that linger in the old Landau building on Market Street. Click here to read Deena's story.

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