The ground vibrates underfoot as a Bobcat rumbles by a few steps away, the hot, sweet smell of diesel exhaust strong in the face. As the bucket of the excavator thumps to the ground, the scents of fresh dirt, old dust and older memories drift past.
Grinding rumbles and tinkling crunches resound on the floor of the Hutson building at the corner of U.S. 45 and Main Street in Carrier Mills. In the first week of February, this landmark of Carrier Mills saw its last burst of activity in a long and varied existence.
Shown on a map of Carrier Mills business in 1914, this building is deeply intertwined with the history the town. The Hutson building was aligned so the front would parallel US. 45. South, this caused the wall facing Main Street being noticeable longer the other long wall. Local historians differ on who originally constructed this building, one area resident tells of learning that a Jewish community was established on Tuller Road early in the 1900’s and that members of their community built the structure, operating a women’s clothing business there.
Another local resident thought a doctor had it constructed to serve as an automobile dealership.
Its original business uses were varied, one local historian mentioned an older female relative recounting tales about a formal dance hall existing there in the 20’s.
An O’Keefe relative remembers being told of a portable roller skating rink which, in the 30’s and 40’s, would be set up in the building when the rink passed through Carrier Mills on its circuit of area cities.
Clyde O’Keefe owned the building from the early 30’s to the late 60’s. The building was used as Crosley appliance dealership and warehouse. O’Keefe received appliances by rail and sold them locally. O’Keefe was also the local distributor of Crosley appliances for Southern Illinois, southern Indiana, southern Kentucky, and parts of Tennessee and shipped appliances to customers throughout these areas.
The Crosley dealership occupied the front of the building, the tiles of the display room floor still visible today, while the rear of the building was used as a warehouse and shipping area.
From the early 50’s through the 60’s the building was used almost exclusively as a lumber warehouse.
Sold to J.D. Turner in the late ’60’s the building was used as a welding shop catering to the area mines as well as to local customers. Pictures in books on local history show the building in the mid-’70’s, with a J.D. Turner Welding displayed sign displayed over Main Street.
During the late 70’s to the late 90’s the building saw a variety of uses. Many local residents remember a Karate studio existing there in the 80’s. Two local businesses began in the Hutson building, Nationwide Glove, starting business there in the 1970’s and Flip-Flop’s and Fitness, both still in existence and currently located in Harrisburg.
Page 2 of 2 - Purchased by Fred Hutson in the late 90’s, the building was used mostly for storage and to shelter a retired Carrier Mills fire truck Hutson had purchased. Recently damaged beyond repair by high winds, the Hutson building has reached the end of its existence in Carrier Mills. A garage in the rear of the building to house the antique fire truck and the original concrete floor will remain behind as the rest of this grand old building dwindles into memory.
As a Bobcat rushes by with wires, pipes and conduits bristling from its clam bucket like a fence lizard with a grasshopper in its mouth, this piece of Carrier Mills history drifts away into the dust of yesterday.