History of Hope's Hardware Business
By Barb Johnson
The Yellow Trail Museum building on the west side of the town square was originally a hardware store. The Weinland Hardware Store was opened on that site in 1849 (some sources say 1853). In 1879 the building was destroyed by fire resulting from an attempted robbery that involved blowing up the only safe in town! The one in the hardware store.
George Weinland had a new two story building constructed and continued in the hardware business. In 1901, his sons, Horace and John, became his partners. Horace continued the business until 1928 when he sold it to Frank McCullough. Mr. McCullough ran the hardware until it was sold to George Bruner and Ward Robertson in 1943. Bruner Tin Shop moved to the second floor of the building.
In 1958, Robertson opened a plumbing and heating business on the north side of the square, and Bruner continued the hardware business until 1969. When George Bruner retired he was followed by Kenneth Taylor, David Calendar, and James T. Thayer as each tried the hardware business for a few years.
By 1975, the Yellow Trail Museum was being organized and would occupy the top floor with Wirth Construction and Realty Company soon to fill the lower level. Later the museum took over the entire north side of the original hardware store building.
If you visit the museum you can still find many reminders of the hardware stores. Rolling ladders on tracks extend down each side of the first floor. Those would have allowed clerks to climb to the highest shelves to get items for customers. They also provided hours of entertainment for John Robertson, Ward’s son.
Paint is peeling on the stairway walls, and on the plaster are signatures of the Weinland family. And upstairs you can still see the work benches used in the Bruner Tin Shop. Up a few more steps one can find a large pulley used to haul items to the upstairs storage area through the trap door in the floor. And of course there is a safe still bearing the name “George Weinland and Sons.”
Of course we must add the recent history of Major’s True Value which originally was located in the building once used by Robertson’s Plumbing and Heating. That business started by Major and Carla Gross is now located just south of the schools in the new shopping area on State Road 9 and is managed by the Gross’s son, Spencer.