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Monuments and Milestones
Weaver's Department Store
The history of Weaver's Department Store begins a few years after Lawrence was founded. In 1857, Lathrop Bullene came to Lawrence without his wife, Susan Read, and two children to start a dry goods business with his brothers in-law Fred and John Read. During his search for a location, Bullene encountered a grocer who was eager to part with his business when plaster fell from the ceiling and ruined a large portion of his stock. Bullene leased the building from the owner for 13 months at a cost of $800. Bullene's timing couldn't have been better - moments after he signed the lease, another man came into the store inquiring if the space was for rent.
The Bullene and Read store, quite successful from the beginning, offered grocery staples as well as shovels, glass, cloth, and tailor services. Over the years, the store's stock grew in variety and the business grew in success. The partners had a new building constructed at 739 Massachusetts Street, just a few doors down from the original building, and moved in 1859. Bullene went on buying trips to Chicago and other major cities to acquire quality merchandise for the store. By the early 1860s, however, Bullene and the Read brothers parted as business associates. In 1862, the Reads opened a competing store only a few doors down from Bullene's.
The Bullene and Read families survived Quantrill's raid in 1863. Mrs. Bullene asked the first group of raiders to spare her home due to her sick mother's health. After investigating the home, the men decided to spare the house. Some reports indicate that Mrs. Bullene fed many groups of Quantrill's men, eventually running out of food.
Bullene's store recovered quickly and eventually moved to a larger location next door at 741 Massachusetts Street. This store burnt down in 1873, but Bullene was able to rebuild and recover within a year.
The Bullene Family. Lathrop and his wife, Susan, seated at center.
A.D. Weaver and his wife, Gertrude, at far right.
In 1883, Bullene hired Arthur D. Weaver, who had worked for Bullene's brother in Kansas City for nearly a decade. Practically a member of the family, he met his boss's daughter, Gertrude, fell in love, and married 6 months later, becoming a partner within a year.
In 1885, Bullene developed a bronchial condition and decided to sell off all remaining stock, close the store, and retire. Instead, Weaver bought the business from his father-in-law and continued to operate the store in the same building. The goods sold at the store didn't differ from what his father-in-law had been selling, mainly cloth, clothing and household items. Just like Bullene, Weaver kept up with the current fashionable styles and trends his customers had come to expect.
In 1908, Weaver decided to expand, buying the building just north of him. Weaver connected the two buildings by tearing down the wall between them, doubling his space. His largest competitor, the Innes Store, also decided to expand, buying the lot on the corner of 9th and Massachusetts Street where they constructed a large 3-story building.
In 1915, Weaver's son, Arthur Bullene (A.B.) Weaver, joined his father's business with the intention that he would eventually take over managing the store. Plans changed when one of the partners of the Innes Store died and another dissolved their relationship from the family. In 1929, the Innes heirs sold their business to the Weaver father and son duo who immediately moved their store to the larger Innes store built in 1908.
Through the Depression and a world war, the profits slid, but the store survived. By this time, A.B. had taken over for his father and brought Larry S. Flannery from a major apparel company in the Midwest to assist with managing the store. In the early 1950s, after his father died, A.B. began to explore other interests and relied more and more on Flannery to run the store, eventually selling it to an investment group headed by Flannery. In 1971, Flannery added a men's store and remodeled the façade to the modern windowless style that it retains to this day.
In 1987, Flannery was succeeded by his son, Joseph who continues to manage the business today.