The original two story section of Martins was built as the first post office building in Elkhart in 1868. The North End “Syndicate”, a group of businessmen, raised $14,000 to erect the building, and then leased it to the U.S. Government for $1 a year. A newspaper article from the Elkhart Review, in January of 1868, stated “there were 207 lockboxes and drawers fitted up with Yale’s patent lock.” Special agents of the Post Office Department pronounced the interior “the most conveniently arranged and elegantly furnished office in the west”. The Elkhart Review newspaper was located on the 2nd floor and another newspaper, The Observer, was printed in the basement. The post office remained at 116 W Jackson until 1886.
A long time ago.....
MARTIN'S FEED mill now in this building on West Jackson. The picture is of an early period and was made from an old engraving. At the time the picture was made, the old Elkhart Review newspaper was housed on the second floor. The newspaper was reached by climbing the stairs on the right.
In 1917, J.A. Stump & Son started a coal business at 116 W Jackson. In 1922, Stump changed the business to feed and flour, which the feed part of the business remains to the present time. In 1930, Talmadge D Martin took over the feed business renaming it T.D. Martin Feed. About 1945, Walter E Hutschenreuter bought the feed store and a short time later was joined by his son-in-law, Martin Maloney. As farms disappeared from the Elkhart area, the business started changing to lawn and garden products. Pet products were added in the late 50’s and the 60’s brought Toro lawn mowers and snow throwers. The Lawn Service was added in the early 80’s and the name “Martins Pet and Garden Center” became more common as feed and grinding slowed down. Jon Weaver and Gary Miller purchased the business January 1995 after working many years at Martins. Jon started in the mid 1960’s in his high school years sweeping floors and stocking shelves. Gary joined Martins in 1980.
Restoration and remodeling of the front of the store was completed in 2004. The restoration of the 136 year old original post office building was to return the building to its late 1800’s appearance.