Holman Mercantile Store – Willowbrook Apartments
“The Leading Merchants”
In 1847, Jacob and Michael B. Holman founded a mercantile business in Liverpool, PA on the Kerstetter property on Front Street. Michael soon left the partnership and Jacob later brought his two sons Park and William into the business.
After the 1873 fire which destroyed a block on both Front and Market Streets, the Holmans purchased the 101 -103 S. Market Street property, built the present building and opened a new store January 1875. They bought the property from another prominent business man, justice of the peace and poet, George Cary Tharp. Tharp’s own family store had stood at this location for over a generation before being destroyed by the conflagration.
In the 1890s as many as nineteen teams of horses tied up in front of the store and during holidays as many as seven clerks serviced shoppers. An attraction was a barrel of whisky to which customers helped themselves to a free drink! For decades the business prospered, becoming one of the leading enterprises in the community.
When the brothers retired in 1930, Weis Pure Food Markets leased the property and conducted a grocery business at the location until 1951. In the Post-World War II era, business models changed from clerk-waited stores to self-service supermarkets. After successor grocers, the store closed for good in the late 1950s.
Restoration and Housing for a Second Century
In 1971, Walter C. and Donna Willow purchased the structure. Recognizing the need for affordable housing, Walter and his son Steve remodeled it into seven residential apartments. In 1989 Steve and Carol Willow purchased the building. Thanks to further 2013 maintenance by Carol Willow Eckenrode, the stately edifice remains to anchor the Liverpool Square, a 19th century Victorian presence in the 21st century.
This marker given in loving memory of Steve J. Willow, 1953-2005 by Carol Willow Eckenrode.
Logo of Bicentennial and the Historical Society of Perry County and QR code goes under a dividing line, and along with the sponsorship line.
4 Pictures to be embedded in marker copy.
- Park Holman
The Holman Store in the 1880s, 101-103 S. Market Street.
Note the Widow’s Walk. The trees on the Square were planted for the 1876 Independence Centennial.
George Cary Tharp 1830-1911, Businessman, School Director,
Justice of the Peace, Politician and Poet
Steve J. Willow 1953-2005, Liverpool general contractor and community leader
This material below to be on the Marker’s web site as citations and
1830 – George Cary Tharp born at Mt. Patrick, Perry County and adopted by George and Mary Cary Tharp. The elder Mr. Tharp may have started his business in Liverpool immediately after immigrating from Ireland in 1819.
The younger George received his business training in his father’s store, but dropped out of school at age 13 due to health. He read voraciously and became a writer as well as a businessman. He married in 1853 to Helen M. Case, daughter of Dr. James H. Case of Liverpool. In 1865 Cary purchased the store then located at 101 S. Market St. from his father. This structure burned in 1873. Possibly seeking to rebuild his finances, Cary sold the Market Street property to Jacob Holman and resumed business on Front Street. In 1877 Cary went into partnership with his son, retiring from the business in1882. Cary served as justice of the peace for 25 years and with his fine literary talent wrote poetry for many Liverpool occasions. Juniata Valley Biographical Encyclopedia, 1887. History of that Part of Susquehanna and Juniata Valley, 1886, Vol. 2, pp 1308-09
1847 – Jacob Holman established as mercantile store in Liverpool with brother, Michael B. Holman. Partnership dissolved in 1856. History of that Part of Susquehanna and Juniata Valley, 1886, Vol. 2, p 1120.
1853 – Michael B. and Jacob Holman, brothers in dry goods business together at Kerstetter location on Front St. Perry County Weekly Advertiser, September 30, 1853
1854 – Jacob Holman married his first wife, Louisa Lutz (1832-1862), both of Liverpool. They has one son, William Willard Holman. Liverpool Peoples Advocate and Press, April 27, 1854. A second marriage was to Sarah Ann Wallis, mother of Jacob Park Holman (1832-1925) – Brad Lowe Cemetery List
1867 – Jacob Holman on list of dealers in wares, dry goods and merchandise, Class 10 license in Liverpool. G.C. Tharp is a dry goods dealer in Liverpool and a Democrat. .Advocate, April 25, 1867
1874 – G.Cary Tharp who sold the 101-103 S. Market Street lot to Jacob Holman in May1874. Tharp had operated a store himself at least since 1853 with his father at the Kerstetter stand. Tharp’s store burned in the June 1873 fire which destroyed almost two blocks of Liverpool. Tharp owned all the lots on that block of Market Street. Deed, Lts 41 & ½ of 42 and Brad Lowe’s book.
1877 – In the 1877 map of Liverpool, Jacob Holman is shown as operating a store at the site of the 2017 Willow Apartments. The present building constructed 1874.
Jacob had two sons who joined him in the business as they came of age – William and Jacob Park Holman. Jacob died in 1909. Park died in April 1942 two weeks after the death of his half-brother William Willard. Death Certificates and oral history of Brad Lowe, January 2017
1889 – George Cary Tharp, a justice of the peace. Advocate, Aug 21, 1889
1890 – Zell Holman, another daughter of Jacob Holman. Advocate Jan. 22, 1890
1890 – G.C. Tharp Democratic delegate to County Convention Elected chair of Convention. Advocate, August 20, 1890
1890 – Park Holman took Miss Almeda Snyder for a drive to Selinsgrove. Park has a magnificent buggy, a first class horse and new harness – “something to be proud of.” Advocate, Sept 10, 1891. Almeda became Park’s first wife. She died in 1900 and he later married Mary Elizabeth Watts. Brad Lowe.
1891 – G.C. Tharp appointed school director of Liverpool Borough. Advocate, January 7, 1891
1891 – Nineteen teams and vehicles in front of J. Holman and Sons Store. Advocate, March 25, 1891
1891 – Holman Returned from city (Philadelphia) with fine stock of new goods. Advocate, April 3, 1891
1891 – Mrs. T.O, Cathcart of Millerstown, wife of Thomas Cathcart, merchant of Millerstown. Advocate April11, 1891
1891 – J. Park Holman hauling stone for new house on (110 S.) Market St. Liverpool Peoples Advocate and Press, May 6, 1891
1891 – William W. Holman’s son, Jacob Leigh, age 6, drowns in the canal. Advocate, Aug 24, 1891
1891 – Jacob Park Holman constructing new house. Advocate, Sept. 21, 1891
1894 – Jacob’s daughter, Zella Russell Holman married Jerome H. Messersmith – Duncannon Record, June 15, 1894
1900 ca – The Holmans. like the Tharps were prominent Liverpool citizens. The Holmans advertised their dry goods store as ‘The Leading Merchants’. Liverpool Business Directory, ca 1900
1909 – Gazebo constructed on Market Square, a bandstand for Liverpool Citizens Cornet Band. In 2001 repaired with a $10,000 grant. Patriot News, March 20, 2001
1909- Jacob Holman died Aug. 7, 1909, son of Adam Holman, only son age 82, b 1827. PA Death Certificate
1923 – W.W. Holman has stood 55 years behind a counter. Started as a young boy in store of his father started before Civil War. Later his father, ‘the richest man’ in Liverpool moved to Millerstown and purchased a saw mill and lumber company. After it burned, Jacob moved back to Liverpool and started a second store, building on Market Street. Still known as ‘Holman’s Store’. “At that time pure whisky stood in a barrel from which customers helped themselves to a drink and no one got intoxicated.” Jacob would go to Philadelphia without memoranda and buy everything he need for a year, knowing almost to the cent what his bill would be and never having forgotten anything. Since the death of his father, W.W. Hollman is in partnership with his brother, Park Holman. Evening News, Nov. 6, 1923
1930 – Dec. 1, 1930 the Holman’s Store to be no more. Selling out all stock and fixtures. 55 years ago on Jan. 1, 1875 they commenced business at this stand. Familiar sight to see 15 to 20 teams tied in front to do trading. From 1880-1890, most prosperous years for business in Liverpool. During the holidays, there were 7 clerks to wait upon customers. Newport News Oct. 30, 1930
1930 – Weis Store moved 1930 from store room of Mrs. Emma Kerstetters on S. Front St. into the Holman property on Market St. Weis has leased the Holman property for five years. Had a pipeless furnace installed. Newport News Nov. 27, 1930
1934 – Jacob Holman heirs will sell their property at public auction Sept. 1, 1934. Store room already rented by Weis, but house at this time is vacant. P.C. Democrat, Aug 29, 1934
1937 – Guy Lower, former assistant manager of Weis in Liverpool, became manager. Perry County Democrat, May 5, 1937
1937 – Robert D. Enders – Married Carrie N. Trimmer of Liverpool. Former manager of Weis Store in Liverpool, In 1937, manager in Carlisle. Harrisburg Telegraph, June 30, 1937
1942 – J. Park Holman, died, age 78. B 1862; wife Elizabeth Watts. Advocate April 9, 1942
1942 – George Long bought Lot 42 from Estate of W.W. Holman June 2, 1942. Deeds of Perry County
1950 – Store building sold in 1950 to Harry D and Grace E. Beigh. Deeds of Perry County
1960 – Ernest Milton Lower, age 53, died. For several years manager of Weis Market in Liverpool. Perry County Times, Feb.18, 1960
1971 – Property purchased by Walter C. and Donna Miller Willow. Seeing the need for renovations, Steve J. Willow assisted his father, Walter in remodeling the interior to create seven apartments. Below
Below, Walter Charles and Donna Miller Willow
1989 – Steve J. and Carol Willow purchased the building from Steve’s father.
2005 – Steve Willow, general contractor and community leaders, dies. Steve was an active Mason, a Past Master, and belonged to the Harrisburg Zembo Shrine. He and his wife, Carol, hosted sixteen international exchange students at Greenwood High School during their senior years.
2013 – Carol Willow Eckenrode renovated the building with new windows and vinyl siding.
2017 – Carol Willow Eckenrode placed Perry County Bicentennial marker in Steve Willow’s memory. Carol along with her husband, Tom, continue to own and manage the apartments.
Below, Tom and Carol Willow Eckenrode