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Out of the Past: The Steak House, Main Street, Hamburg, 1980

BACK IN TIME — This photo of the current Mason’s Grille, circa 1980, was provided by Hamburg Town Historian Jim Baker. Material for the story was also provided by Jim Thoman.
HAMBURG — The outside appearance of this building hasn’t changed much, since this photo was taken in 1980. At that time, it was home to The Steak House. Today, it is home to Mason’s Grille 52. This photo was taken in December 1980 ,during the Hamburgh Holidays Celebration.

The building dates back as far as 1850, when it was home to a Methodist parsonage. At the time, the Methodist church was on Main Street, just a few doors east of the present building. It remained that way, until it was purchased by Julia Abbott in 1886 and then later conveyed to Lois Rafter in 1902. By that time, the Methodist church had been constructed on Union Street.

In 1914, the property briefly ended up in the hands of the People’s Bank of Hamburg, to settle the will of a local woman who had left the property to her children, George Abbott and Eliza Abbott Thompason. It then was apparently occupied by the Rafter family, until William Young purchased it in 1921 and opened the first drug store at the location. Young probably added the brick exterior and expanded the building to what we see today.

Young operated the drug store until 1948, when he sold it to John and Dorothy Marks, who ran it as a Rexall Drug Store until 1957, when Albert and Florence Pritchard took over and opened Pritchard’s Rexall Pharmacy. At that time, the upper floor was occupied by the Dr. Evans Dental Practice.

When Pritchard retired in 1974, his business at that site was the oldest continuously-operated pharmacy in the village. It had been longer than half a century since Young had started the drug store in the building. After the pharmacy was closed, the building was sold to Leonard Silveri, who remodeled it and opened Gabriels’ Cocktail Lounge in 1976.

Since that time, the building has been home to at least four different owners. In 1979, the property was purchased by Liz and Frank Mendola, who opened the Village Steak House. They stayed at the location until 1988, when they leased the building to a man who operated as Candlewoods Lounge. When he left in 1992, it became The Apothecary, under another lease agreement.

Following the end of that business in 1996, the Mendolas again took over the operation of the business and called it the Village Grill. It remained that way for two years, until 1998, when they sold the business to Frank Lorenz, who opened the business as Murphy’s. Lorenz stayed there until 2004, when he sold out to Dennis and Damon Ayer. The new owners continued with the name Murphy’s until 2011, when they renamed the business Mason’s Grille 52.

As an aside to this story, Pritchard’s and Millar’s, just across the street on the north side of Main Street, were the last of the small community-type drug stores to serve the village of Hamburg. William Young’s in 1921 and Horton’s Hamburg Pharmacy, starting in 1920 on the northwest corner of Main and Buffalo streets, were probably two of the first.

Horton’s, a typical pharmacy of that period, took care of not only customers’ medicinal needs, but also had a soda fountain and ice cream bar for those with a sweet tooth.

Horton’s stayed in business until 1939, when it was reported in the Erie County Independent that Millar Brothers Pharmacy had taken over the Horton pharmacy files. Millar’s even supplied former Horton Pharmacy customers with its own version of an ice cream bar and soda fountain. In later years, Harold’s Meat Market and Chuck’s Shoe Repair were situated on the corner once occupied by Horton’s. In 1969, that building, once called the bunting block, was destroyed by fire.

This column is written by Hamburg Town Historian Jim Baker.

Individuals’ wanting to submit photographs and/or materials can call Baker at the Hamburg Town Hall on either Wednesday or Thursday, between 9:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., at 649-6111 ext. 2400. Readers can also provide feedback by writing to The Sun and mailing correspondences to The Sun at 141 Buffalo St., Hamburg, NY 14075.

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