When we first purchased the building in 2016, it had not been lived in or used for decades. We knew that it would be a LOT of work. However, we were convinced that it would be well worth the effort to preserve this beautiful place! Below are some excerpts taken from the Journals of the original owner, Charles Petty.
"We fired up the sawmill on Zion Mountain with two objects in mind. Sawing out a bill of choice lumber for the proposed big store. This we did in good shape. Not having suitable cash finances, our only hope was to have sufficient lumber to sell or trade for material or labor, used in construction of the store building. All this lumber was stacked so that it would be well seasoned when needed.
"Work on the store building was going strong in the Dixie sunshine. William Marshall and Harry F. Faubin were the masons, laying up the brown brick while Chris Larson and William Terrel were the carpenters; and I was a roustabout helper. The store building was on the corner of Main and 1st North Street, and was set back 4 ft. on each street. The North of the building was elevated 3 ft. with basement - just like the Pratt building.
April 1, 1913:
"The Big Day: The very day that the first income tax became effective, we moved from the the little frame building (20 ft. x 30 ft.) into our large new building. Ownership: Frank Petty 40%, Melbourne Demille 40%, Maggie and me 20% (paid mostly by Maggies ground). Father had good judgement. He said, “You can’t sell goods unless you have them to sell - so load up with a good stock everything the town needs. We have good credit with the wholesale houses.” So that’s what we did. Groceries, Dry Goods, Hardware, Farm Implements, Wire, Furniture. Everything from the cradle to the grave. Now to the next question: After paying for the ground and building, we only had $6,000 left to buy merchandise with. We all could readily see that the firm could not pay me a living salary. A deal was made whereby we would manage the store for half of the net profit. Hurricane was a very small town with only a 150 families, but it was new with prospects of growth. We could not draw a dollar out of the store for wages, so heres what we did. With no rent to pay, a good garden, an excellent milk cow, a flock of chickens for eggs, and pig to kill for meat, we could live pretty well. The salary from the county, and the fee for being town attorney provided some cash, and during the summer months, i spent every other week up at the sawmill. I also became a notary public and made out legal papers, etc. We also sold one of our big city lots for $490 with which we started a picture show by lengthening out the old store building. For electricity we bought a Dynamo and a gas engine which when started up, would go “POP POP POP!” This would signal the starting of the show. Here came most everybody in town and some came from other towns. Shows were every Wednesday and Saturday nights. So as the town grew, our business grew. As town Attorney convicted two parties for disturbing the peace but it was harmful to our business, so i resigned.
"Scenic Foresight: Never in my travels in Europe and elsewhere had I seen anything to compare with Zion Canyon, with its colorful towering peaks, where we were down looking up instead of up looking down. I dearly love the place. In 1914, I had taken Governor William Spry, Douglas White of the Union Pacific, and others into Zion. But how could we sell scenery unless we had roads to carry people to it? Each county in the state was obliged to build its own roads at that time. There were no state roads." (Charles Petty later went on to advocate for the building of roads and other infrastructure, necessary to Zion becoming a National Park)
"Our new Drug Store: In addition to our present building, size 30 ft. X 40ft. was erected and a modern fountain installed. We leased it to the Cedar City Drug Company at a profitable rent. This new business greatly increased our general store trade. It was a gathering place for the young people - especially during the evening."
"This size of Petty Business Block was increased to 90 X 90 ft. Here’s a list of what the building housed:
1. The Telephone Central
2. One front office was leased to Dixie Power Company which lighted up the area.
3. The other front office was leased to the Intermountain Drug Company of Cedar City (This was a real boost to Hurricane)
4. The two upstairs “Do Drop In” apartments were leased to school teachers.
5. The basement was leased for a pool hall.
6. The Post Office was moved from two blocks up the street, and now occupied the old drug store room. Mary Hall the Postmistress,
became a valuable tenant. At mail time crowds would gather for their mail and drop into the store for their shopping.
7. The new picture building, 40 ft X 100 ft. With its sloping floor, brought many customers for the store.
8. Petty Mercantile (The largest store in Washington County and did the largest amount of business by far)
"On the 90 ft. sidewalk we printed “Star Theater” and “Petty Merc.” These are still there after 50 years." (now over 100 years)