Saturday, April 9, 2011

Martin was early Frederick business man

Frederick's Grand Avenue, 1912

 Click on photos to see larger

Martin office was in downtown Frederick

In the summer of 2009 the Tillman County Historical Society received a 1912 album of photographs that was sent at Christmas that year to relatives of the L.T. Martin family of Frederick.
The album was returned to Frederick as a gift to the historical society by the Martins' great-niece Mari Wright of Florida.
Mr. Martin was a successful real estate man and lender in early Frederick. The album contained many photographs of their wonderful home at 405 North 11th Street in Frederick (see Tillman County Chronicles blog post "L.T. Martin home, 1912", April 8, 2011).
The album also contained a photograph of Mr. Martin and a secretary working in his Frederick office, as well as a photograph of Grand Avenue looking toward the northeast (posted above).
L.T. Martin office in Frederick, 1912
Where was Mr. Martin's office located in 1912?
That is an interesting question, with no definite answer. Several clues, however, lead to a speculative answer.
The photo of Grand Avenue was taken from the vantage point of a second level window on the south side of the 200 block of West Grand Avenue. This was almost certainly the upper floor of the building that many Frederick residents would later know at the Tomlinson or TG&Y building. In Frederick's earliest decades the second level of all downtown buildings served as professional offices, rental rooms and apartments, and even hospital rooms.
The second level of the Tomlinson building adjoined offices above the McLellan Furniture and Undertaking building on the west (decades later the Marks Dress Shop) and the First National Bank Building (currently Frederick City Hall) on the east. Today those offices have been empty and unused for decades, but in 1912 they were a hive of activity.
So... The 1912 photo of Grand Avenue was almost certainly taken from offices above the Tomlinson Building.
Could that photo, included in the Martin photo album, have been taken from Mr. Martin's office?
The answer is likely "Yes".
The photo of Mr. Martin in his office with his secretary could well have been in the same building. The office's distinctive round-top windows match the original window shape of the Tomlinson building's.
As a real estate investor, L.T. Martin certainly owned other properties.
The Martins seem to have left Frederick by 1919. The Martins were not included in the 1919 city directory, which showed that their home at 405 North 11th had another owner.
A 1920 publication, though, referred to the building at 108 North Main as the L.T. Martin building. Although the North Main property was apparently aquired by Martin during his years in Frederick, it does not appear to be the site of the 1912 office photograph.

Joe Wynn is a member of the Tillman County Historical Society’s board of directors. He can be contacted by e-mail at

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