top of page

Small, historic building has many tales to tell

Remodeling is under way at the historic Hannibal building on the southwest corner of Broadway and Richmond Street. Work has unveiled a partial view of a former sign advertising the building which contained the Lucke Maytag Wash ’N ‘Dry beginning in the 1950s. Photo by Mary Lou Montgomery, 2023.


By the recent removal of a a partial facade on an historic building at Broadway, where it intersects with Richmond Street, a piece of Hannibal’s history comes to light. Baby boomers and beyond well remember the Lucke Maytag coin-operated laundry located on this busy corner, just a block to the east from the old St. Elizabeth’s Hospital.

Rhonda Brown Hall is among those who remember their mothers taking advantage of the convenience of this neighborhood business while washing their family’s laundry,

But there is more to this building than the history associated with coin-operated washing machines and dryers.

Blacksmith shop

In 1895, when horses ruled the road, J. Thomas Herring, a well-known Clay Township, Ralls County farmer, operated a blacksmith and wagon shop on Broadway extension. It was located on the southwest corner of Richmond, at 1801 Broadway, (later renumbered 2201 Broadway) and he lived right around the corner on Richmond Street. Herring, a widower, was aided in the horse-shoeing operation by his teen-age son, Isaac.

Most buildings standing along this avenue today were constructed after the beginning of the 20th Century, with a few exceptions. The brick building that stands on this particular corner today replaced - by 1913 - the earlier building that housed the blacksmith shop. In 1909, a half decade before the opening of St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, Charles J. Armstrong, a widower, was supporting his family through the operation of a grocery at this location.

So who were the people who conducted business at this location through the decades, and left an indelible footprint on the dirt and stone pavement?


J. Thomas Herring, born circa 1850, was the son of Catherine and David Herring. He was married to Susan E. Renfro in April 1880, in a ceremony performed by J.T. Clayton, justice of the peace.

(Note: a tombstone in Mount Olivet Cemetery identified his wife as Maggie, born in 1854. She and her young son, John S. Herring, died in 1892.)

In 1920, J. Thomas Herring was living at Saverton Township in Ralls County, two miles southwest of Ilasco, with his son, B. Isaac Herring, and two grandchildren, John, age 10, and Francis, age 15. Mr. Herring died Feb. 9, 1927, at the age of 76, and is buried at Mount Olivet Cemetery.


During the early years of the Civil War, Charles J. Armstrong, the 10-year old son of a Hannibal brick layer, resided with his family near the Marion House on Market Street. He may have been a witness when secession troops came in from the country west of town, with plans to capture the town of Hannibal.

As described in “The History of Marion County, Missouri, 1884,” ‘Hawk Eye’ Livingston left the others behind in the Bear Creek valley, and ventured to the three-story Marion House hotel.

“Making his way to the roof of the hotel, he saw with his keen but oblique vision that the town was too well guarded by the Federal soldiers to be captured then, and the attempt was abandoned, and never afterward entered upon.”

Armstrong took for a bride, Nora. They had one son, Charles Fletcher Armstrong, born circa 1885. Nora died in 1886 at the age of 25.

He was next married to Matilda (Tillie) Mason, daughter of Harvey and Julia Mason.

Together they operated the grocery at the corner of Broadway and Richmond for many years. After her husband’s death in 1939, Tillie continued to live on Richmond Street, address 110, until her death in 1953 at the age of 82.

Charles J. Armstrong was buried beside his first wife, at Holy Family Cemetery. Tillie is buried at Mount Olivet Cemetery.


By 1940, Thomas W. Wooten had taken over operation of the corner grocery store. For the next decade, the Wooten name would be well regarded in the neighborhood. Earnest E. Wooten opened a motel nearby, at 2309 Broadway. In 1959, the Lori-Linn Cafe restaurant was at 2307 Broadway, Wooten’s Motel was at 2309 Broadway, and Harold’s Standard Gas Station was at 2319 Broadway. Earnest Wooten lived at 2407 Broadway.


Herbert Frederick Lucke opened Lucke Maytag Wash ’N Dry in the former Wooten grocery store building by 1959. The business, open 24 hours a day, allowed housewives to wash and dry their clothes in coin-operated Maytag machines. The address was 2101 Broadway.

When Herbert Lucke died in 2006 at the age of 102, his family published a remarkable history of his career in the Hannibal Courier-Post, filled with his innovations and successful investment concepts.

Beginning in the late 1950s, he operated a series of coin-operated laundry facilities, including the aforementioned store at 2101 Broadway. But that’s not where his career began.

“Growing up on a farm in rural Marion County, Mo., Herbert Frederick Lucke educated himself in electronics, especially radio technology, building a career as a radio repairman and salesman.

“When washing machines became readily assessable, he began selling them, at first from door to door.

“He would often wash a load or two for the lady of the house to prove the effectiveness and convenience of the new machines. He met Fred Maytag and became devoted to selling Maytag washers. Soon he opened a store selling first Maytag washers, then other household appliances and TVs as more technology developed.

His career was interrupted by the bombing of Pearl Harbor during the second World War.

“Herbert enlisted and served as a Radioman 2nd Class in the U.S. Coast Guard for the duration of the war. His radio technology expertise was used to maintain communication stations from Charleston, S.C., to Jacksonville, Fla., protecting that part of the East Coast from German submarines and other types of possible attacks. “At the end of the war, Herbert returned to his appliance stores that had been providing service during the war and added Maytag laundromats to serve people in Hannibal and Palmyra.

This Maytag advertisement was published in the Marion County Standard Nov. 25, 1936. Herbert Lucke, long-time Maytag dealer in Palmyra and Hannibal, at times operated sales businesses in both communities.

After meeting Fred Maytag, Herbert Lucke decided to sell washing machines from the Iowa-based manufacturer, at first door-to door. Marion County Standard Nov. 25, 1936.

Mary Lou Montgomery, retired as editor of the Hannibal (Mo.) Courier-Post in 2014. She researches and writes narrative-style stories about the people who served as building blocks for this region’s foundation. Books available on by this author include but are not limited to: "The Notorious Madam Shaw," "Pioneers in Medicine from Northeast Missouri," "The Historic Murphy House, Hannibal, Mo., Circa 1870,” “Hannibal’s ‘West End,’ the newest book, Oakwood: West of Hannibal.” Montgomery can be reached at Her collective works can be found at


 Recent Posts 
bottom of page