After Richard Little's Rough and Ready Mill gave steady employment for a number of workers, those workers needed accommodations. Julius D. Hill opened a general store just east of today's Bowles-Santa Fe intersection in 1872 (some sources say 1868.) It was a two-story building, and the upstairs "hall" was used by the early Masons, Methodists, Catholics, and Christian Scientists. Oscar G. Hill operated a drug store nearby on Rapp Street. A hotel soon appeared which became known as the Harwood Inn in 1876 when Mrs. Little's parents, John and Mary Harwood assumed ownership. It sat just west and south of Santa Fe and Bowles. Later it was called the Midway Hotel; in 1896 new owner Charles Treat renamed it the Sunshine and Shadow Hotel.
|Corner of Main and Prince looking west, c.1890.|
As the area's dairy industry grew, J. D. Hill and Irving S. Morse opened the Littleton Creamery on Malinda Street right around the corner from Hill's General Store.
The Littleton Independent newspaper was begun as the Littleton Gazette in 1888 in the basement of the Harwood Inn. One of its early Main Street locations was on the north side of the street between Curtice and Rapp. Ebenezer Jull build his hardware business in 1890 at the northeast corner of Main and Prince.
Other early Main Street businesses included Harry Lilley's livery stable on the north side between Nevada and Curtice and the R. W. English Lumber Company (later the Littleton Lumber Company) at the northwest corner of Main and Prince. Some of the larger buildings constructed on Main Street in the 1890s were: Colonel Robert Spotswood's business block at the southeast corner of Main and Curtice; C. D. Abbott's two-story building on the south side between Prince and Nevada, next door east of the site of town hall--Abbott Drug was downstairs, the Methodists met for a time upstairs, and Swanson's Jewelry opened there in 1911; Samuel T. Culp's block also on the south side between Prince and Nevada. The Culp block has been described as Littleton's "first shopping center" because it housed such a variety of shops.
|Main Street, looking west, c.1916.|
O'Brien's store was built in 1890 at the northeast corner of Main and Harrison (now Sycamore.) From 1899 to 1916 it was the First and Last Chance Saloon. Located conveniently close to the Denver and Rio Grande depot, it was probably frequented by workers going to and from the Leyner Engineering Company which arrived in 1902.
Down Nevada at Low Street was the Merry Canning and Pickle Factory, established by Avery and Charlotte Gallup to process fruits from their orchards in Woodlawn and vegetables from the Pickletown area east of Littleton. When Caley and Sons moved their cheese factory to Littleton from south of town in 1899, they first occupied the Spotswood Building, and later moved into the former canning factory.
In 1905 Adolph Coors built the Coors block on the northeast corner of Main and Nevada. Among other businesses, it housed the C. K. Coleman Hardware. In 1907 A. J. Valore bought the hardware and ran it at that location until 1917 when he purchased Jull's Hardware (mentioned above) at Main and Prince. Valore operated out of the Jull building on the corner for a few years until he completed two more sections east of it. Then he rented the corner store to the Post Office for twelve years. Valore Hardware permanently closed in 2005.
|Main Street, looking east from Curtice Street, c.1925.|
In 1908 Edward Batschelet erected the two-story building which sits about mid-block on the north side of Main between Nevada and Curtice. Batschelet owned the lots all the way to the corner of Main and Curtice, but he constructed his building on the east end of the property, adjoining Lilley Stables. The Batschelet Block first housed the One Price Cash House dry goods business, then a clothing store, then an auto supply store. In the 1950s the Heckethorn Manufacturing Company (HECO) occupied the lower level. The large hall upstairs was originally an opera house.
An earlier opera house was in Evans Hall, the second level of a building built in 1889 by "L. Evans" at what is now 2450 West Main. He built it to house a bakery downstairs. It sat well back from the sidewalk. In 1898 the city bought the building and moved its offices there. It extended the structure on the front with a brick addition, and after Littleton was made the Arapahoe County seat in 1904, leased the front rooms to county officials for a time. The building also housed the city's library for a period until the Carnegie Library was built in 1917. In 1920 the brick town hall was torn down when the Benedict-designed town hall was built on the same site.
Just a few of the other important early businesses on Main Street were the Kalinowski Bakery at present 2570 West Main around 1905; Fred Bemis' Blue Ribbon Stables between Curtis and Rapp, 1907; Ed Bemis' camera, stationery, and book store in the Crocker Building on the north side, between Prince and Nevada, 1908; the First National Bank on northwest corner of Main and Nevada, 1905; George Bancroft's grocery, begun 1910 and occupied various locations; the Littleton National Bank on southeast corner of Main and Prince, 1911.
John and Agnes Grissinger opened their photographic studio in 1932 in the building next door east of the Littleton National Bank, and recorded three generations of local residents and scenes until they retired in the 1980s.
Two other longtime businesses operated on Main Street. Veto's Shoe Repair was started by Veto Larocco in 1929 and was closed in 2001. At the lower end of Main Street the Valley Feed and Supply was opened in 1936 by Paul Sutton. What was then a center for feed for farmers' chickens and other livestock catered to the horse business when Centennial Race Track opened. In recent years it provided garden supplies. Valley Feed and Supply closed in 2014 after 78 years in business.
These are some of the significant downtown businesses in Littleton history. Many of the buildings still stand and constitute a truly historic area.
Denver (Colo.) Post. "Main Street. A Quiet Haven In Littleton...." 14 May 1984. Denver Post Publishers, 1895- .
Hicks, Dave. Littleton From the Beginning. Denver, Colo.: A-T-P Publishing Co., 1975.
Littleton Historical Museum. "Littleton Historical Building Survey (Main Street.)" The Museum, 1992.
____. A Walk Down Main Street. The Museum, 1985.
Littleton (Colo.) Independent. "Fifty Years Of Littleton's Personal Diary" in fiftieth anniversary edition of the newspaper, 1938. The Littleton Independent Publishers, 1888- .
Littleton Museum. Photographic Archives and Biography/Place Name Files.
____. Vertical Files: Exhibit Records. "Trade At Home," 1982-83 and "Littleton--The Changing City," 1983.
McQuarie, Robert J. and C. W. Buchholtz. Littleton, Colorado. Settlement To Centennial. Littleton, Colo.: Littleton Historical Museum and Friends of the Littleton Library and Museum, 1990.
Winterbourne, George B., comp. Littleton City Directory. Littleton, Colo.: Winterbourne, 1905.
Photographs courtesy of the Littleton Museum unless otherwise noted. To order copies, contact the museum at 303-795-3950.
Compiled by Doris Farmer Hulse
Updated April 2021 by Phyllis Larison