How exciting it would be to look out over downtown Springfield and see the lights at night! Or to look at traffic creep along on a snowy morning! Or to hear the Courthouse clock chime just as the sun comes up!
Keith and Tisha Woodall have been able to see those sights and to hear that sound. Their home at the top of the old Randolph, House Department Store is on this year’s Christmas Tour.
The Woodalls have owned the property that is their home since May 1, 1998.
Many long-time residents of Springfield remember well when they shopped at Randolph, House. Clothes, fabrics and patterns, even shoes, were available on the main floor, the upstairs, and downstairs.
Randolph, House is remembered, but who was Randolph? Who was House?
Randolph was George Randolph, who in 1905 opened a business in a storeroom on the Square at 518 Main Street, not the later site.
His partner was W.C. House.
Their business moved and became Randolph, Mathews, and Company. Mathews was a partner for less than two years, and the name changed again.
When Tony Dowlen purchased an interest in the business, they bought the goods of Eckles and Lawrence Company, which had been run by Milton Eckles and Vernon P. Lawrence.
Acetylene gas was being used for lighting in Randolph, House. On the night of Nov. 1, 1913, there was a fire. Randolph, House and all of its contents were destroyed.
The catastrophe did not, of course, end the story - nor the store.
Eleven days later, Randolph, House, Dowlen, J.R. Hooper, and J.C. Howard bought the lot on which Jennie Bell’s building had stood.
The lot next to the Bell lot was owned by Mrs. Otto Dowlen. She and the men built the attractive two-story building that is remembered as Randolph, House. It was incorporated after the fire. N.C. Carlton was also in the list in the incorporation.
In 1921, J.C. McMurry bought the stock of Randolph, House. Carlton stayed with the firm for awhile, but the others retired within a few years. Some residents even referred to the store as J.C. McMurry and Company for a time.
The business continued its success.
An advertisement in 1958 shows leather billfolds for only $2.95 as a Christmas special. Another ad features “Velveteen Coats for the Kiddies” at $6.95. And a third advertisement offers Samsonite luggage – a ladies’ train case for $17.50.
Names connected with Randolph, House through the years are Welborn Porter and Mrs. Maude Morton. Miss Cullom Gardner of Adams and Miss Jane Holman greeted and waited on customers.
Henry Pepper was the porter.
Memories of the crowded, noisy department store, especially around Christmas, are vivid. Today the building is quieter, although Crossroads Christian Bookstore and the home school headquarters help keep Main Street busy – and oh what a view from the roof!
In the Eagle’s Eye is sponsored by the Robertson County Historical Society. Call 615-382-7173 for more information.