Wilson-Bates Furniture Co.

The Wilson-Bates Furniture Store, constructed c. 1906, was originally operated as the Graham Mercantile Company. Prior to construction, the building was described as “43 feet and four inches by 101 feet running back to Graham alley, back of Aultman street. It will have a basement under the entire building and will be put up with brick to a height of two stores; however, the building appears to have been constructed as a three-story building and is listed as such on the Assessor’s site.” The building was constructed on the same property as the previous Graham Mercantile Company.

Wilson-Bates Furniture Co., c. 1930s.
Graham Mercantile Co. advertisement from White Pine News (1906).
Wilson-Bates Furniture Co., c. 1930s. Note the Italianate style and stone exterior.

The name of the business changed to Campton Commerce Company in 1920 and eventually became Wilson-Bates Furniture Company. The building was constructed in the Italianate style with a wide-eave overhang supported by decorative brackets on the front façade. The 1907 Sanborn maps show the building to be a two-story, brick building with a frame cornice. The rear elevation is shown as having windows on both the first and second story. The second story windows appear to have been covered when metal panels were applied to the exterior. Additionally, the building is shown to have possessed a skylight on the second story, an elevator, a furnace, and a fire protection system (fire-proof walls and two hydrants with a 50-foot and 100-foot hose). Aerial photographs show the skylight to no longer be extant. The 1912 Sanborn maps show the same layout; however, the west elevation now shares its first-story wall with the building direct to the west (333 Aultman Street). A fire-door passageway between the two buildings is also shown. The 1923 Sanborn maps show the same building; however, it is now labeled as Campton Commerce Co.

1907 Sanborn map for Ely showing the footprint for the Graham Mercantile Co.
1912 Sanborn map for Ely showing the footprint of Graham Mercantile Co. and the building next door.
1923 Sanborn map with the building labeled as Campton Commerce Co.

William Boggs Graham was a local businessman and mine owner in the White Pine area. Born in August 5, 1854 in Pennsylvania and married to Katharine (1886), Graham is credited as keeping the town of Ely afloat in its early days by furnishing miners supplies on credit since the 1870s. He arrived in the area around 1874 and quickly established himself. He served as postmaster for the town of Ely from 1889 to 1894 and 1901 to 1907, as well as serving as the President of the White Pine County Bank, located directly next door to the mercantile. He was also a member of the state banking board, having been appointed by Governor Oddie. Much of the material used to construct the early buildings of Ely was supplied by Graham. The 1910 Federal Census has his address listed as 376 High Street in Ely, Nevada and 379 Aultman Street in 1920. Graham moved to California sometime after 1920 and died in 1924.

Sources used for this article include the following:

“Graham Mercantile Co. is Incorporated.” 1906. White Pine News, May 11.

Ancestry.com. U.S., Appointments of U. S. Postmasters, 1832-1971 [database on-line], accessed on April 6, 2020;

“Appointments Made Yesterday Evening: W.B. Graham of Ely, J.A. McBride of Elko and Hugh Brown of Tonopah.” 1911. Reno Evening Gazette, March 28.

“News from the State Press.” 1906. Reno Evening News, October 6.

1886. White Pine News, January 30.

United States Department of Commerce: Bureau of Census, 1910.

“The Nevada Rambler.” 1934. Nevada State Journal, August 18.

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