Seely & Titlow Building (blink) Now Hensel’s Hardware in Arcata

I know this is a repeat, but visitor Skippy has done such an amazing job of digging up (and sharing) information on this great old store that I just had to share–and repost so that interested folks didn’t miss it. 

Finding the photos online is easy compared to the work Our Friend Skippy has done.  Thank you so much, Skippy !

Most know of the business and this long standing building at 10th and I street in Arcata. A store that served generations of customers. It’s where the Hensel’s Ace Hardware store stands today. Do you remember their live chicks and turkeys, chirping away?

The Seely & Titlow company filed for state incorporation on Nov 28, 1902– with $25,000 in capital stock. One of the founders was Henry Stanly Seely, helped along with some seed money by his father, John Seely.

Mr. (Henry Stanly) Seely was born in Arcata, January 15, 1875. His father was John S. Seely, one of the early Humboldt county pioneers, and his mother was Virginia (Deuel) Seely. Both are well known in this county, where they passed many years of their lifetime, and where they are held in the highest esteem by all who know them. The son, Henry Stanly, spent his boyhood days in Arcata, attending the public and later the high school, graduating from the latter in 1895. For a few years after completing his education he remained at home with his parents, working at various occupations in his native city, and in December, 1895, he accepted a position as assistant bookkeeper for the Vance Redwood Lumber Company, of Arcata.

“He remained with this company until December, 1902, when he purchased an interest in a general merchandise store in Arcata and was appointed manager and secretary of the same. The reorganized firm was known as the Seely & Titlow Company, and is at present one of the most flourishing business houses in the city. The scope of their enterprise has been increased since Mr. Seely took charge of the business and many improvements have been made in every department under his careful and skillful direction…”
(History of Humboldt County, California with Biographical Sketches; published by Historic Record Company, Los Angeles, California. 1915. Pages 353-354)

Arcata Union Newspaper, March 18, 1915:
“Cheap coffee is a poor investment. There’s plenty of it on the market. Don’t buy it. What’s the use of spoiling a good meal with a wishy-washy stuff that leaves a muddy taste in the mouth and harms the system? We sell only good coffee. It’s cheapest in the end because it gives satisfaction. Everything for you in first class groceries … SEELY & TITLOW Co. Quality Store

June 19, 1930
“New Dull Tone Chiffons — A glorified lusterless “Dancing Chiffon.” Panel curve heel. Dull tone finish. Picot top in ruby red. Silk feet plaited over softest lisle. Unbelievable service in hose so sheer. $1.50 the pair. Seely & Titlow General Merchandise, Arcata …”

From ‘On This Day in Arcata’ by the Arcata Union and Arcata Eye newspapers, accompanying this same photograph:

January 3, 1929:
“Modern efficiencies abound at the Seely & Titlow merchandising firm at 10th and I streets. The progressive pioneer merchandising firm has recently completed a new building and remodeled a portion of its present edifice. Special rooms hold perishables; a large mezzanine floor is served by a freight elevator, with increased efficiency the result. By utilizing the former warehouse and removing a partition, a building 70 by 115 feet has been built to harmonize with the adjacent building neatly painted in light, attractive shades, suitably trimmed.

“The difficulties of keeping rats and mice from the flour stock has been overcome by the use of a room 15 by 20 feet on the east side of the warehouse. The room is absolutely rodent proof, made so by the use of metal lining and heavy galvanized wire of small mesh. Adjoining this room is a potato storage room, 12 by 15 feet, also rodent proof, where several tons of potatoes can be stored for the retail trade. The room is kept dark which is best for potatoes, and an electric switch at the door illuminates the place when necessary to remove stock.

Here at left (or the same photograph as above) is seen the dry goods shop, included in the Seely & Titlow store at 10th and I streets offering a wide variety of items ranging from canned foods and clothing to seeds and laundry soap. Tracked ladders aid in obtaining items from tall shelves.”

The Seely & Titlow store was quite a large and happening place in its day. What you see in the photo was only a portion of the business; fabric bolts, canned goods, hanging watering cans, C.C. Morse seeds, and nattily dressed employees breasting three piece suits and watch fobs, the lady appropriately attired in hat and gloves.

Perhaps the Hess family still owns the building. It’s been remodeled into business offices; an 840 square foot office is currently available for $1,025 per month.

8 Responses to Seely & Titlow Building (blink) Now Hensel’s Hardware in Arcata

  1. Fred Mangels says:

    Nice job putting that together. I was looking closely at the enlarged picture trying to identify as many items as I could. Noticed the water cans on the high right and fabric on the left.

    I was wondering what those steel buckets were underneath the table in the middle of the room. Were they used as bins for small items for sale, or simply empty buckets for sale? I would think if they were buckets for sale they would have been nested inside each other to save space.

    • Lynette M says:

      I am fortunate enough to know someone with quite a family collection of those old tins and such. He’s told me I can come and take photos to share on this blog.
      I’ll make sure I look for buckets/tins and maybe I’ll be able to solve that mystery for you…

  2. olmanriver says:

    Yay skippy…

    “Wishy washy coffee”– the drink of flip-floppers?

  3. skippy says:

    Yes, olmanriver. But high-quality caffeinated coffee, wealthy and youthful indulgences, and fast cars also have their own problems– as evidenced by the article below:

    Arcata Union Newspaper, August 12, 1915
    On the front page:

    “John Seely, eldest son of H. S. Seely, is carrying his arm in a sling and his head in cotton as a result of a mixup near the Wilson place on the Eureka road early Sunday morning, when the Ford car he was driving turned completely over and lighted on its running gear, and was not too badly damaged to be driven to Arcata.

    “Jack admits he was “going some,” and states that in turning out to avoid a collision with a big car traveling at a high rate of speed, the accident happened, and how he is not sure about. At any rate, he came out with a broken arm, and a bruised head and considers himself lucky …

    Flipping and flopping, indeed. A lesson for us all.

    (… and a ‘thank you’ to you, Lynette, and Fred. I wondered about those buckets, too…)

  4. Joel says:

    The photo is the front end section, ‘H Street’ house and dry goods, now occupied by North Town Books. There was a hallway with adjoining offices through to the feed store.

  5. Barbara Saul says:

    My grandfather, Ben Fleckenstein is the man in the back of this photo. He worked for Seely and Titlow for 50 years and drove their delivery truck, a Reo, the first truck in Arcata. And yes, I remember Grandpa letting me hold the baby chicks!

  6. Rick Avern says:

    Hey. It turns out my Great Uncle worked as a clerk here in 1928. Wonder if anyone knew him or wife Nora??

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