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Repairs planned on building; once served as livery stable

Greg Wright shares a photo of his family’s business, Wright’s Furniture and Carpet, during the 1980s. Howard Wright was the owner and Greg Wright, his son, was manager. The address was 109 S. Fourth.


An historic downtown building, tagged for safety concerns by the city in recent weeks, will soon be on the mend, according to the building’s owner, Greg Wright.

The pre-1885 building, located on the west side of the 100 block of South Fourth Street, has served many functions over its lifetime, from a livery stable and wagon storage, to a laundromat, to a temporary home for the Hannibal Fire Department, to a car dealership and ultimately, a showroom for Wright’s Furniture.

The most recent tenant, Encore Emporium, recently vacated the building following an unfavorable review from the city.

When Encore Emporium’s change of ownership within the extended Hammock family took place earlier this year, the transfer prompted a city building inspection.

Mike McHargue inspected the building at 109 S. Fourth on the city’s behalf, and he noticed a problem with the building’s ceiling. “A major portion of the ceiling (about 16x20-feet) had fallen,” he said, and it had been repaired by bracing it with plywood.

McHargue, the city’s building inspector, called in a structural engineer, “who confirmed my fears,” he said.

McHargue said he doesn’t have the power to close a building down, “but I did tell them that anybody entering (the building) needs to know that there are significant structural” deficiencies.

Ten days later, the city’s building commission, based upon the structural engineer’s report, elected to condemn the building.

“Condemnation doesn’t mean the building must be torn down,” McHargue said. “The building is repairable,” but there are serious problems, he added.

Upon closer inspection, the engineer hired by the city found sagging beams, and additional plaster ceiling is at danger of falling.

The owners of the Encore Emporium and its vendors have relocated to 315 S. Third St.

Greg Wright, whose family business, Wright Furniture and Carpet, was previously in business at this location, confirmed on Friday that he does plan to make repairs to the building.

“It is very repairable; I have an engineer hired,” he said, pointing out the building’s vast history and its importance to the neighborhood.

“It was built in such a manner, free span as much possible on inside,” Wright said. “There are not a lot of support poles. It has bridge trusses, wood and steel, almost like an old bridge span.

“At the front section of the building, it is 86 feet, and that only has one support pole in the middle. The whole roof truss system is built the same way to the back.

“We need to put in a couple of extra support poles to shore it up on both sides; basically it is sagging.

“When I bought (the building) in 1980, you could see the sag, but it was structurally sound. Over period of time, the spans have sagged more, one side needs to be repaired for sure.”

“The whole ceiling is plastered onto a wire mesh. That is not really what is falling; the truss is pushing it down and making it crack in places.

“We will go in and put new support poles, so it won’t really be a free span as much as it was.

“I’ll put the work out for bid, to Tom Bleigh and others; I don’t know who can take on work at this time. It is stable, if we don’t get to until fall it is fine.”

Wright has a vested interest in preserving the function of this building. Wrights Furniture continued in business at this address until 2001. Also, “I was born and raised in Hannibal,” he said; “never had a desire to leave.”

While he is still associated with the three-generation family business, now located on U.S. 61 south of Hannibal, his son, Bryan, has taken over day-to-day management.


As early as 1877, James A. Nelson, along with Harvey Jordon, operated a livery business at 100-102 S. Fourth

In 1885, the large, extended building housed the James A. Nelson and Co., Livery, Feed and Sale business. Business owners included Nelson, E.P. Confrey and T.B. Parks.

James A. Nelson was born in Marion County, Mo., in 1834, and enlisted with the Seventh State Militia, Cavalry, during the Civil War.

In 1966 and 1967, the building was used as Station One for the Hannibal Fire Department, while the old fire station was torn down and the current station constructed. (Source, Becker Spaun)

In 1967, 105 S. Fourth also served as Gasper’s Cleanarama, coin-dry cleaning, and B&R Motors was to the south at 116-119 S. Fourth.

In 1973, Tom Boland began selling new Fords at 119 S. Fourth.

Wright Furniture and Flooring, which was long located at 305 N. Main, moved out of the floodplain, to 109 S. Fourth, by 1981. The Wrights have been in business in the Hannibal area for 87 years.

Way back in Hannibal’s history, in 1859, the Hannibal city directory described the occupant of the building on the northwest corner of Church and South Fourth:

“(E.M.) Moffett and (Joel) Harris’ Factory is situated on the corner of Fourth and Church streets. The building is three stories high, built of brick with a stone basement, and is 111 feet long by 45 feet wide; employ about 50 hands; purchase about 400,000 pounds of leaf tobacco per annum; manufacture from 3,000 to 4,000 boxes and packages for the hoe trade, and putting up from 100 to 125 hogsheads leaf and strips for export.”

By 1885, the old tobacco building was no longer standing, and had been replaced by two residences.

The 1913 Hannibal Sanborn Map shows the row of buildings on the west side, 100 block of S. Fourth Street. At the time, the buildings housed the Parks Livery Co. Map accessed via the Digital Library, University of Missouri.

This advertisement was published in the Hannibal Courier-Post on July 2, 1886. The building at 204 S. Fourth Street, later renumbered 105, was home to James A. Nelson’s livery stable for a number of years. The building formerly housed Wright Furniture and Flooring, and the Wrights maintain ownership.

Greg Wright shares a photo of the family’s first business location, 305 N. Main.

Mary Lou Montgomery retired in 2014 as editor of the Hannibal Courier-Post.


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