Treasures from Matteson Hardware
In 1906 Matteson Hardware was built at the corner of Liberty and Jackson Street in Morris as part of the Collins Building. It dominated that iconic location for 70 years until 1977 when it moved to the current Ace Hardware location at the north end of Liberty Street. Matteson’s was an old fashioned place, the walls were lined with wooden drawer boxes, and grass seed was measured out onto an old Fairbanks scale.
What happened to all those memories? Steve Matteson has saved a lot of them, donating them to the Grundy County Museum. There’s even the original account book, kept by Price Matteson and preserved in a fine handmade wooden display box – the first entry is dated October 1, 1906. As well as later receipts from the 1930’s and 1940’s, the metal “We Sell Everything in Hardware” sign, an empty can of Beat Sall Drain Pipe Cleaner, because Gerry Matteson bought the patent for it in the 1960’s, a couple of those drawer cabinets, and yes! The old Fairbanks scale! All of these things and more, are now on display in the south east corner.
A Musical Legacy
Paul Sullivan was a junior in high school when he started playing drums for the Spartans, a group of Morris kids that played at teen parties and dances, even in bars from Streator to Joliet. They got paid $20.00 a night. Members included: Rich Sparta, sophomore, Mike Wiechen, and freshman Dick DePung. In 1962 they cut a record, “Jungle Call,” with a company in Chicago.
Sullivan’s grandfather, Harry Hull, also played in a band. He played mandolin – an 1897 Washburn. In 1907 Harry Hull was playing at Hull’s Hall in Morris, as well as in Chicago.
Harry’s mandolin, photos of the two bands, and a signed copy of “Jungle Call” are now on display at the Grundy County Museum.