817 Hillsboro Avenue
Halley’s Cash Market
Historic Buildings are normally known by the name of the person who built them, but the commercial building at the corner of Chapman and Hillsboro belonged to one family for so many years, that few would recognize it as anything other than “Halley’s”.
When built in the early 1920s, the address for this small grocery was 317 Hillsboro, but the numbering system was changed around 1930 to its current address of 817 Hillsboro. The earliest records list the store as Barnes Cash Market. Joseph Barnes operated the store for three years, then sold it to Costas Coroniotis who operated the Superior Cash & Carry Grocery in the building from 1924-1927. In 1927 the building was purchased by Thomas and Mayme Halley who ran Halley’s Cash Market until 1970.
Tom Halley and Mayme Mockler were married November 26, 1912 at St. Boniface Church, a fact that is easily found when perusing old editions of the Intelligencer since they celebrated their anniversary each year with an open house. The couple was married almost 64 years, with Tom passing away the day before their anniversary in 1976. They had no children, but during their long marriage they not only lived together but also worked together.
They first ran Halley’s Dairy and Ice Cream Parlor for 15 years on Vandalia Street, then purchased the market on Hillsboro in 1927. That building also came with the house next door at 815 Hillsboro. The house was the only building on Lot 68 for many years, but after the store was built, the two buildings have always sold as one lot. The Halleys, who at first lived at 110 N. Kansas with his aunt and uncle, rented the house at 815 Hillsboro to Mayme’s brother, John Mockler. By 1929 city directories show the Halleys owning and residing at 813 Hillsboro where they would live just 2 doors down from the market for the rest of their lives.
Sam Makler, who owned the former Halley’s Market when this story was originally written, grew up in the neighborhood and remembers the couple well. Tom was the outgoing one. He loved children and often told them stories or entertained them with coin tricks when they visited the market. Despite the name “Halley’s Cash Market”, most locals had accounts. Mothers could send their children down to the store whenever they needed anything, and the price would be added to their bill. These neighborhood grocers also helped their neighbors through the Depression, giving credit when paychecks were sometimes a long time coming. Halley’s Market had more traffic than the usual neighborhood grocery since it was on Route 66 during its most popular years and was the first grocery travelers saw when entering Edwardsville.
Tom was a good businessman, friendly but tough when he needed to be. The back of the store was next to the railroad tracks, and an attractive target for would-be thieves. Tom let it be known that he kept a loaded 45 on the premises and more than once chased thieves down the tracks firing over their heads. He also fortified the back of the store with iron bars and a bullet proof door that remain to this day.
Mayme Halley was quieter than her husband. She was hard working but remembered as stern when compared to her husband. She was also frugal and kept a close eye on the books.
The store carried a large variety of merchandise. Besides canned goods, they carried cereal, dairy products, candy, snacks and comic books. Tom worked the butcher counter and there was a popular ice cream case. There was one small round table at the back of the store where people could sit to eat what they purchased, a good idea for a store along Route 66. Advertisements for Halley’s Cash Market are found often in the newspaper. Many of the grocery ads would be for a specific product with all the stores in town that carried the product listed at the bottom of the advertisement. Small neighborhood markets were popular during the time Halley’s ran their store, and there were often more than 15 Edwardsville grocery stores listed in the ads.
For a few years in the 1930’s a beauty shop was in the back of the store. It was probably run by Della Mockler, Mayme’s sister-in-law who rented the house next door to the store.
Halley’s market was and still is a nice example of early twentieth century commercial architecture. The front door is placed in the center of the building with large, tall display windows on each side. The front upper part of the structure, near the top of the roof line has a tin decorative design that runs across the entire building imitating stone. Another decorative tin element is the capping running atop the front façade above the imitation stone front, giving the building a special decorative touch. Tin is also evident inside with the restored tin ceiling.
John & Hazel Hemmerle bought the store from the Halleys in 1970. The Hemmerles opened Hazel’s Resell-It shop in the building but felt so connected to the Halleys that they left the sign, “Halley’s” on the roof through most of the 19 years they ran the business. In 1986 men repairing the roof probably thought they were doing the Hemmerles a favor by removing the sign, but in a 1989 article in the Intelligencer, Hazel Hemmerle states that she was very disappointed to discover the sign was gone.
When the Hemmerles bought the shop from Mayme Halley, they made no changes to the basic character of the building. The building’s architectural features as well as store fixtures were all retained and remain to this day. When the current owner purchased the building in 1989 it needed restoration. A year later, Makler and Associates were awarded the Goshen Preservation Award for their work on the building. Sam Makler started a second renovation two years ago after the building was hit by a truck causing $35,000 in damage. That work was completed, and the building became the home for Springer’s Creek Winery. As of this writing in 2023, the building is vacant, but well-preserved.
Sources for this article include materials compiled by Kelly Hardas as a project for Professor Anne Valk’s class, “Preserving the American Past”. Additional materials were located at the Madison County Archival Library, Edwardsville Public Library, Madison County Courthouse and from interviews with Dr. Joeseph Weber and Sam Makler. If you have questions about this article, contact Cindy Reinhardt at 618-656-1294.
By Cindy Reinhardt
First published in Edwardsville Intelligencer 25 May 2007
Revised May 2023