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Putting ‘Tew and Tew’ together…to solve another history mystery!

June 4, 2015
Westfield Republican

By Marybelle Beigh

Westfield Historian

One of the late (and former historian) Billie Dibble's early Dibble's Dabbles, from August 11, 1983, "Tew's second hand store" popped into mind as I commented to Connie Thayer (Portage Pie) that it seems like time to write a bit of history about her recent real estate investment - 44 East Main - most recently known as Sciarrino's News Room. Dibble leads off, "Two real conversation pieces in the collection of pictures at Patterson Library are of the building which stood on the south side of Main Street during the last half of the nineteenth century and of the man who operated a unique business in that building known as Tew's Second Hand Store. Someone recently referred to it as 'Westfield's first Antique Shop,' and today's collectors would indeed find priceless treasures in what appears in the picture to be one horrible junk pile."

Article Photos

Submitted Photo
Tew's Hardware and Second-hand Store circa 1900. Torn down 1906. Located where 44 East Main building is now. (2015)

At the top of the article was a photograph showing Tew's Hardware and Second-hand Store, as well as two neighboring buildings; on the left, the old National Express office, and on the right, a building still standing and most recently known as Cora's Beauty Shoppe. Tew's building was torn down in 1906 and replaced by the one now standing at 44 East Main Street. According to the Dibble's Dabbles' article, Alvin Tew, the proprietor of the store, was listed in the 1873-74 Gazetteer and Business Directory of Chautauqua County as "a dealer in hardware and a repairman."

Tew's obituary in the October 28, 1903 Westfield Republican, page 1, states, "[Alvin F.] Tew was the oldest business man in this town [at the time of his death "Monday eveningaged 75 years."], having been in business here for over 46 years and at the same place for over 35 years He was by trade a tinner and was one of the finest mechanics in his line ever in this town" So, first clues suggest Tew had been in business in Westfield since about 1857, and at the 44 East Main location since about 1868.

Curiosity about the building and business was whetted by the brief bits and pieces Dibble noted in her article, and a search of old maps provided the second set of clues in learning about this mysterious and fascinating place and proprietor. The 1854 wall map of course showed no sign of Tew's location, nor did the 1867 Atlas maps. Although current numbering of addresses did not start until around 1908, the 1881 Atlas map did show a large building in the expected location on the south side of Main Street, with the label "A.F.T." standing for Alvin F. Tew. (BINGO!). The next set of maps - Sanborn maps of 1886, 1891, 1896, and 1902 - show detailed floor plans. For 1886 and 1891, the front of the multi-section structure is labeled "GRO. TINW." (Grocery, Tinware), and behind that, "TIN SM. REPAIRING"; in 1896, the labels show only "Gro." in front, and "Tin Sm. Repairs" in the next section, with a porch over the front sidewalk. By 1902, the front section label is "Junk"! (No wonder Dibble's Dabbles called it a "junk pile"!).

Since Tew died in 1903, and the Tew building was torn down in 1906 when C.F. Bigler built the structure (Bigler Block) that is still at 44 East Main in 2015, the 1907 Sanborn Map shows a neat rectangular building, and is labeled "Meats." On the 1912 Sanborn Map, 44 East Main has the label "Restaurant."

The final set of clues used to fill in portions of the story of Tew's unusual businesses and building, are from the online digitized newspapers made from microfilmed copies of the Westfield Republicans archived at the Patterson Library. These consist of articles and ads located by search words such as "Tew" or "44 Main" for example. The earliest article found was from the November 24, 1858 Westfield Republican, page 1, which reads "Messrs. Tew and Monfort, have united their business on South Portage st. Mr. Tew carrying on the Stove and Tin business and Mr. Monfort the Gun business."

The Business Directory on page 1 of the newspaper shows the following Ad in 1858, 1859, 1860, 1861, and 1862 editions: "A. F. TEW, Dealer in Stoves, Tin ware &c. Particular tention paid to Jobbing and tinkering. McClurg's Block South Portage St. Westfield." This would have been where the Welch Office Building is now located.

After Tew's business was moved to the south side of Main Street location about 1868, a variety of ads were found such as this one in January 22, 1868 WR: "CLOTHES WRINGERS-The Best and Cheapest in use, AT A.F. TEW's. Call and get one and try it. Every Wringer warranted. Westfield, May 29, 1866." (Several of these same ads were found in earlier and later editions).

In the June 16, 1869 Westfield Republican, page 4, a rather unique "ad" was found inside a large display ad for the Grocery and Crockery Store of Smith and Culver at 3 Main Street. It reads, in part, "Wish we were 'Special Agents' for something but are not-unless it is for the sale of A.F. Tew's Croquet Setts, and they don't sell very fast. Call round when you have time and we will try to sell you something. Come in and have some fun with us anyhow."

In the Business Directory of 1874, and 1875, on page 1 of the WR was a more formal ad similar the earlier ones when Tew's business was in the McClurg Block: "A. F. TEW, Stoves, Hardware, Oils, Paintssuperior lot of Tin Ware. Job Work done promptly and well." In 1877 and 1878, a large display ad ran in many of the weekly editions: "A. F. TEW Has now one of the best workmen in the State and is making a great variety of superior TIN WARE, which he is selling at very low prices for cash. [hand pointing at] And everybody already! Knows we can beat all creation doing REPAIRING and JOB WORK of all kinds in our Shop. So bring your jobs right along. Rags, Old Newspapers, and Old Metals taken at their market value. A. F. TEW, South Side of Main St., Westfield, N.Y."

From about 1881-82, and 1889-92, one and two line ads are found in the Local Brevities columns stating that A. F. Tew sells such items as "Japan teas, good soap, good full cream cheese, garden seeds, plows, harrows, cultivators, other good tools, flour, sugar, and other good groceries at living prices."

More History of 44 East Main will be forthcoming in a later BeeLines!



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