Living

Bolton Building on Howard Avenue as it was circa 1914

The arched and columned early 1900s architectural details can be seen on the front of the Bolton Building, which stands in the right background of the bottom photograph.
The arched and columned early 1900s architectural details can be seen on the front of the Bolton Building, which stands in the right background of the bottom photograph. Courtesy Ray Bellande

Today’s Flashback features two photos. One picture shows horse-drawn fire engines racing westward in downtown Biloxi circa 1914.

The picture was captured on Howard Avenue just west of Lameuse Street. It is considered a rare find, because it shows the south side of the street, and most early 1900s photos and postcards feature the north side.

The background buildings, newly constructed after Biloxi’s great fire of 1900, are still standing today.

In 1914 the building on the left was occupied by the Bank Exchange Restaurant. Next is the Biloxi News Co., which carried Premios, a popular 5 cent cigar, which is advertised on the front of the building.

People in the picture are watching the fire engines in front of the Bolton Building, upon which Dr. W.T. Bolton, one of Biloxi’s earliest physicians, began construction in 1901.

In 1914 it housed Harry Cahn Dry Goods and Kimbrough Drugstore on the ground floor, and other commercial enterprises on the second floor.

The other picture shows Harry Cahn (1869-1910), born in Greenville, and the son of French immigrants. In 1903 he partnered with Henry Ivan Singer and opened a dry goods and merchandise store in the Bolton building.

Cahn & Singer carried dry goods, including notions, clothing, furnishings goods, hats and shoes.

Singer parted ways with Cahn in 1904, after which the business became known simply as Harry Cahn. After a lengthy illness, Cahn died on Aug. 29, 1910.

After her husband’s death and before her retirement and sellout in 1916, Hettye Levy Cahn continued to run the business that the newspaper and her customers called “Mrs. Harry Cahn’s.”

At some point in its history, the lovely architectural feature were stripped from the front facade of the building, probably in an attempt to modernize when it was utilized as a Woolworth in the 1940s. Today it houses the law firm of Page, Manino, Peresich & McDermott.

Murella H. Powell, a local historian, writes the weekly Flashback column. Do you have a local photograph to submit to Flashback? It can be of any subject or event in the Coast’s distant or recent past. Please send a description with your name, address and phone number to Flashback, Sun Herald, P.O. Box 4567, Biloxi MS 39535; call 896-2424; or email living@sunherald.com.

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