Strolling the original floors, the group reminisced about their more than 230 years of combined service to the department stores.
“I have so many photographs from my time here,” Lottie Woody, who spent 44 years with the companies, said. “I even have photographs of my daughters helping wrap presents and tying bows during Christmastime.”
Yvonne Newman, who worked in accounting, remembered lingering on the phone with a young Virgil Newman from delivery. They met and married while they both worked there. Virgil started in 1963 and stayed until the doors to Stone and Thomas closed in 1996.
“Even after I was drafted to Vietnam, I would still work when I came home on leave,” Virgil Newman said. “I never missed a day of work.”
College of Arts and Media Senior Director of Development Melanie Griffis said the group’s affinity to the six-story building on Third Avenue goes beyond their incredible years of service.
“Our community had such strong ties to those stores,” Griffis said. “We hear so often someone say they grew up in Anderson-Newcomb or Stone and Thomas.”
Before Marshall University purchased the 66,000-square-foot building, it was just a few years away from demolition. With $9 million in bonds and $4 million in private donations, Marshall University reinforced the infrastructure with 65,000 pounds of new steel and updated windows to match the 112-year-old, original ones.
“With the upgrades, this structure will stand for at least another 100 years,” Griffis said.
The building is on track to open to students this summer, while grand opening events for the public, including a ribbon-cutting ceremony, are to take place Sept. 18-20.
For more information about the Visual Arts Center, visit http://www.marshall.edu/cam.
Photo: From left, Fern Fitzpatrick, Lottie Woody, Elsie Singleton, Lula Cremeans; Donna Rawley; Opal Blake; Yvonne and Virgil Newman; and Jerry and Shirley Blake, the former Anderson-Newcomb employees who toured the building, stand with an early 1900s printing press originally owned by The Anderson-Newcomb Co. When A-N was bought out by Stone and Thomas, the press was donated to Marshall University’s printing department, where it has been used for the past few decades. The press has now found its way back “home” to the Marshall University Visual Arts Center (formerly the Anderson-Newcomb/Stone & Thomas building), where it will continue to be used by students of printmaking.