Home : Quarterly Archives : Volume 13
Tredyffrin Easttown Historical Society
Source: April 1965 Volume 13 Number 3, Pages 69–71
Isaac A. Cleaver and the Bee Hive Store
After the end of the Civil War, Isaac A. Cleaver, a home-coming soldier, married Mary B., daughter of Henry and Sarah Kauffman of Easttown Township, in January, 1865. The following summer he embarked in the mercantile business in Berwyn (then Reeseville), occupying the old store stand which soon became too small for his increasing business. In the winter of 1870 he erected the large and commodious store and residence on the Turnpike across from Fritz's Lumber yard. [Note 1] The building burned in 1890 and only the steps from the terrace to the road remained to mark the site. Those steps were a favored spot for children to gather and play.
Mr. Cleaver then had the store which he named "The Bee Hive Store" constructed. This was located a little west of the former site, across from the railroad station. The square, two-storied building was of stone and has weathered well, for today it houses the Berwyn Furniture Store. Inside the building was a large, wooden stairway, elegant enough for any home of that era. Stairs from the east and the west sides of the store shared a common landing, making a balcony of sorts opposite the front door, and then continued at right angles as one flight to the second floor. The original structure had a porch along the entire front where merchandise was displayed. Coils of rope, wheelbarrows, and pipe joints --fitted into large shining circles-- were found worthy to be thus advertised. Mr. Cleaver remained in business until 1896. The property was then sold at sheriff's sale to Eli Kirk Price for $500.00. [Note 2]
Presiding over "The Bee Hive Store" was not Mr. Cleaver's solo activity by any means. He was Postmaster of Reeseville, and had the Post Office moved from the corner of Main Avenue and the Turnpike into his new store. He took part in many civic affairs. In June of 1870 he took office as an appointed Director of the Easttown School Board. Almost immediately he was elected Secretary of that body which office he held until June 1, 1896, when he declined reelection owing to his contemplated removal from the district. He continued to serve on the School Board, however, until the June 1898 meeting; his letter of resignation was written from Ardmore in November of 1898. [Note 3]
Mr. Schlesser next operated "The BeeHive" as a general store for the next six years, until his death in 1902. The meat and groceries part, being the east side of the store; was then sold to Blake and Clement. The dry goods, shoes, and furniture departments were sold to Mr. John Bergey.
Mr. Bergey failed to make good, and his business returned to the Schlesser Estate. At that time W. W. Schlesser had a hardware store in the rear of the building.
From 1902 until 1907 there was a pool room on the second floor which was run by Garfield Schlesser, who in turn sold to Mr. George Weadley. [Note 4] The good people of our town did not like pool and gambling, and finally put an end to that activity.
In 1904 Karl Lichtenfeld rented the entire build ing and carried on a very nice business until 1914 when he built his own store. His new location was on the corner of Lancaster Pike and Main Avenue, where Harold's is now located. [Note 5]
Before he could begin his construction he had to clear the property of the double dwelling which graced that corner. That building was moved up Main Avenue, and turned so it would front on that street. It has been continuously occupied as a two-family dwelling ever since, and one would never guess it had not always been located there.
During a portion of the time Mr. Lichtenfeld was in "The Bee Hive Store", about from 1906 until 1907, Mr. John Cathcart had a meat shop in the rear of the first floor. Mr. Brace later conducted that business. One can find the following prices of his wares written on the cellar wall;
That back portion of the building was later used as a dwelling for a number of years, until the Berwyn Furniture took possession.
On May 5, 1926, Mr. James Boyle bought the building from Mr. Price. He had an addition built on the east side for the Post Office, which operated there from November 1926 until August 14, 1945, at which time it was moved to the present location at 662 Lancaster Avenue. [Note 6]
After the Post Office was gone, a chemical plant operating as "Berco" made D.D.T. in the addition to The Bee Hive Store until the Berwyn Furniture took it over. The Berwyn National Bank conducted its business in the east side of The Bee Hive Store while the new bank was being built in 1930.
In 1932 builders Hart and Parlaman remodeled the building, taking off the big front porch, bringing it down to pavement level, and making two stores of it. The east side was rented to Dr. Frank Walker who operated a drug store there from 1933 until 1936 when he sold the business to Dr. Albert Day. "Doc." Day had a thriving business there until 1952 when he moved to the east half of the store which is now Connors Drug Store, on the corner of Main and Lancaster Avenues. He continued business at the new location until 1954 when he retired and moved to Florida.
The west side of the old Bee Hive Store was rented to Mr. Welsh who had operated a hardware store there before the remodeling. He sold his business in 1933 to Mr. Casper Tollinger. Mr. Tollinger had the business until 1955 when he sold it to Messers. Robert Barnes and Edward Dalton. They operated the Berwyn Hardware there until 1958 when they moved into their now building at 618 Lancaster Avenue. [Note 7]
The Berwyn Furniture bought the building from Mr. Boyle in 1952. The business began in the east half of the old building, later taking over the addition which had been built for the Post Office. In 1958, after the Berwyn Hardware left, the Berwyn Furniture remodeled the building, adding several early American touches in harmony with the superb craftsmanship displayed in the show windows. The owners have refinished antiques, fashioned or custom-made furniture for many prominent people among whom were George Wharton Pepper, Thaddeus Trout, Percy Madoria, Owen Rhodes, James Eastwick, Mrs. R. E. Thomson, and J. C. Ingersoll and J. P. Bracken of Society Hill. When Mrs. John F. Kennedy was renovating many of the rooms in the White House, the Berwyn Furniture repaired some chairs and copied them to provide seating for one of the dining rooms. That White House contract brought much attention to this flourishing business which is certainly an asset to the town.
"The Bee Hive Store" did not always house successful ventures, but the present occupants certainly show the industry and achievement one associates with that name.Top
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