Another Thursday, and another fun find in the mix of memories we keep around this century old building! Typically we only get to go back as far as 1896 in terms of throwback finds. This week, an even older story made its way to the blog, thanks to a friendly expert at the Ellensburg public library!
While browsing through boxes in a closet upstairs, we found a newspaper clipping. Attached to the clipping was a letter that explained this article was found in the archives at the public library. Reference Specialist Milton Wagy shared the article, taken from Page 3 of the of the Ellensburg Capital Newspaper in March of 1893. The article features a piece on the change of management of the Horton Hotel – just before the Fitterer brothers took over.
The reporter describes the transition, when Frank and Phillip Fitterer re-opened the dining area of the hotel. Shortly after they would take over all of the rooms as well. The complete change of hands was to occur on April 1st, 1893 according to the article – a little over 125 years ago today!
As Mr. Wagy pointed out in his accompanying letter, the reporter didn’t shy away from his feelings for the former manager of the hotel!
“They will take possession of the rooms on April 1st, at which time, it is understood, the former landlord will leave the town for good. So be it.”
Clearly disgruntled with the former landlord, the writer welcomed the Fitterer brothers with high praise and confidence.
“As the citizens of Ellensburgh can now appreciate the importance of having a pleasant, courteous and public spirited landlord”
The brothers of course transitioned to home furnishings following their time managing the Horton. They took their 'public spirited' , service based approach to their new venture; cultivating success and a strong sense of community in the heart of downtown Ellensburg - or Ellensburgh, as it was in 1893.
We are always immensely grateful to have enjoyed a long history in a town where history presents itself, quite literally, on every street corner. We’ve told you all about the building here on the corner of 4th and Main, gone over the history of our prized cash register and even taken you on a journey through the past to figure out exactly when old fabrics and stamps made their way to the store.
Some items have been in our possession for up to 110 years – but others come to us by different means. This week we wanted to highlight a few antiques that we’ve been privileged to acquire from friends of the store and community members who enjoy the history of city.
Most days people take things out of Fitterer’s and back to their own home. Other times however; they bring something in to us!
We’ve received yard sticks imprinted with Fitterer Bros. branding and contact info from days gone by. Some of these we can’t even date back to, as their age and rarity make it difficult to pin point. The yard stick pictured below for example , we simply could not date. We usually try to find clues on the item to give us an idea of age, and the phone number “Main 97” would be the most distinctive marker. With no search results on the web, we actually took to our Facebook friends for this one. We got a few leads and possible date of 1922 from our fans and local history buffs!
Antique yard stick , given to the store by a friend. This is oldest Fitterer Bros Yard stick that we've come across thus far.
Discovering something new is always a joy -as is discovering something with an interesting back story! A few days ago, we were fortunate to receive a lithograph that was removed from the side of an old building in the process of being demolished. The metal plate, about one yard wide was a newspaper lithograph that happened to feature Former Rodeo Queen Kathie Fitterer and her 1965 Royal court. We were able to share this treasure with the Kathie herself, and learned that its common to find these lithograph panels on old buildings.
1965 Lithograph found on a building being demolished - featuring Rodeo Queen Kathie Fitterer and the Royal Court
Right side of the lithograph - featuring the full Rodeo Royal Court
We’ve even received China, purchased as a wedding gift at Fitterer’s just a few years after the new store on 4th and Main was opened, and an amazing 1896 coin on another occasion.
tcher states that Mr. and Mrs. Bert Richeson
( Married February 1910 ), also had one of the same sets purchased at Fitterer's.
We value the relationship we have with our customers and the community of Ellensburg above all else. We love to be able to share stories that make their way to us through the generous tight knit network that we call our friends, family and neighbors.
Good morning! It's another sunny March day in Ellensburg!
Today we’d like to take a trip back to when the Fitterer building that we know today first came to the corner of 4th and Main!
People often come into the store and ask us if we've been in the same building all 122 years we've been in business. While the store we know today has been standing for over a Century , the Fitterer brothers (Phillip and Frank at this time) , sold home goods and furnishings at a location on the corner of 3rd and Main. The original 3rd Avenue location was actually very close to the old Robber's Roost trading post opened by Andrew Jackson Splawn and Ben Burch in 1870.
The Fitterer's success, driven by top notch service, hard work and long hours, resulted in expansion. In 1907 the the South East lot at the corner of 4th Avenue and Main Street was purchased for $6000, and construction on the new building started shortly after.
Over 225,000 bricks make up the building - the majority were actually manufactured locally in Ellensburg at the Cobel brickyard. The beautiful brick and large display windows identify the impressive 120’ x 60’ structure; completed in February of 1909.
One of the most unique features of the Fitterer building is the second floor balcony. Something many people don’t know, is that the building was actually designed to stand just two stories tall. The balcony, added to the 18ft first floor, would later be converted into a second floor for additional showroom space. This unique modification used a system of steel rods to suspend the second floor from the third floor ceiling. If you find yourself walking through the store today, you may notice the rods while you browse. These, along with the zinc plated cash register are just a few reminders of Fitterer’s earliest days!
A look at the suspension system on our second floor. The second floor is suspended by the 3rd floor ceiling.
While there have been modifications over time, the 21,600 square foot building has been fully operational since its construction in 1909. The next time you find yourself downtown, stop by and see us. We’d love to share our story with you!
This Thursday we’d like to share a little bit about how furniture was delivered at Fitterer’s in years past!
You’ve probably seen our delivery crew out and about on the streets of Ellensburg , Yakima, Wentatchee, Leavenworth – or even Seattle! We actually deliver statewide , so you never know where you might see a Fitterer’s truck. Thanks to modern technology, trips across the state are possible today, allowing us the opportunity to build relationships with our customers who don’t call Ellensburg home.
Our current delivery truck that travels locally and across Washington State.
While we have grown with the times, it’s fun to look back at the history of business operations at the store!
Naturally, there were no box trucks to fill up in 1896. So how did Fitterer’s get merchandise to customers back then? Well, as the stories go, it all starts with a few horses and a wagon.
Walking into the store today, you’ll see the sales office in the back left corner. Presently we process paperwork, take payments, and keep our vintage cash register in this space. In the 1890’s however, this is where the delivery horses took their breaks. It sure is hard to imagine horses standing where desks sit today!
As time went on the horses were replaced with more modern means of delivery. The buggy pictured below is rumored to have been the first replacement for the teams of horses, though an exact date for this change is unknown.
Fitterer Bros Delivery vehicle - rumored to have been the first replacement for the delivery horses. Behind the buggy is the bottom of the Webster hotel that used to stand on 3rd and Pearl.
Vehicles for delivery continued to be updated as time went on, including a newer version of the original buggy, and also a vintage version of today’s modern box truck. Each vehicle was stamped with ‘Fitterer Bros Furniture’ and served as tools to get home furnishings to customers all over Ellensburg.
A newer version of the original Fitterer Bros Buggy served as a replacement in later years.
One of the original Fitterer's box trucks used for delivery.
Though the way we deliver furniture has evolved, our commitment to a quality customer experience remains unchanged. With statewide delivery being a possibility today, if you’re passing through Ellensburg and in need of furniture – stop by and see us! We have cookies, too.
We hope to find you well on this beautiful Thursday! This week, in keeping with our theme of mattresses, we will be outlining some mattress trivia that was originally featured on a Fitterer’s 110th anniversary banner in 2006. While you may have heard a few of the more common facts, some of these tidbits may surprise you!
10,000 Years Ago:
In the Neolithic period we find the first evidence of people sleeping on primitive beds made of soft branches and furs.
3400 B.C. :
Egyptian Pharaohs are the first credited with building a platform off the ground on which to sleep. These were known as pallets and were used by royalty. Common people slept on palm bows heaped in the corner of their home.
The first luxury bed – usually stuffed with reeds, hay, wool, or feathers , and covered in luxurious fabrics. Romans are also credited with creating the first waterbed. The sleeper would recline in a cradle of warm water until drowsy, then be lifted onto an adjacent cradle with a mattress, where they would be rocked to sleep.
16th & 17th Centuries:
Mattresses were generally stuffed with straw or down and placed atop a latticework of rope for support. Over time these ropes would loosen and need to be tightened, hence the phrase “Sleep Tight”.
Mattresses were filled with cotton, hair or feathers. Variations of cotton were the best sellers and foundations were usually open coiled boxsprings. Assorted vermin ( bugs, bacteria, mildew) were typical as an accepted component of even the most royal beds.
Foam Rubber (latex) mattresses and pillows appeared on the market.
Modern waterbed introduced. Adjustable beds become popular with consumers.
Spacious sleeping is on the rise. In 1999, the queen-size mattress became America’s most popular choice for the first time. It beat the twin size.
Choice and comfort are the key words in contemporary bedding. In addition to an almost unlimited range of innerspring mattress designs, new types of foam mattress cores ( such as ‘memory” or visco-elastic foam and refinements to traditional latex) as well as airbeds, waterbeds, and high-tech adjustable sleep sets offer consumers attractive, quality alternatives. Pillow top mattresses, a popular innovation in luxury, offer an extra mattresses are common.
Though its been a few years since we put this information together for the first time, today’s mattress trends are still largely the same. Choice and individualized comfort are key in choosing the perfect mattress by contemporary standards. If you need a helping hand , our mattress experts are here to help you start sleeping soundly! For more on mattress shopping, check out last weeks’ tip blog!
It’s no secret that sleep is an important factor if you’re trying to stay healthy. It’s also no secret that if your mattress isn’t up to par, you won’t be achieving the maximum benefits from a snooze.
Industry standards say you should replace your mattress every ten years. Sometimes though, ten years might be just too long to wait before upgrading the surface you’re sleeping on. So what should you be looking for when you think its time to make a change? We asked our mattress expert, Aaron, for some tips on when to replace your mattress, and what to look for when you’re searching for ‘the one’.
Is it time for a new mattress?
Pain: If you wake up with pain in your back and neck or you’re simply feeling sore and achy when you wake in the morning, its probably time to consider replacing your mattress. Mattresses that are past their prime can cause tossing and turning, leading to sore muscles, less REM cycles, and just general fatigue.
You’ve Had it Forever : While sometimes a mattress will need replacing before the 10 year mark, other times you simply need a new mattress because, well, yours is old. If it was fantastic when you bought it, you may be hesitant to go to a newer model. Over time, though, body composition can change. When it does, your mattress should be able to support any variations.
What kinds of mattresses are available?
There many mattress types available , each claiming their own unique traits. These are a few of the most common that you’ll see on a showroom floor:
Innerspring : The most commonly used in households across the country. According to furniture.com, an estimated 80 percent of of homes are using innerspring mattresses. These types of mattresses are constructed using steel coils to support body weight.
Latex : These mattresses constructed of either organic, blended or fully synthetic latex material are popular with shoppers today, and are typically hailed for their firmness and high durability.
Memory Foam : Memory foam mattresses are another popular mattress model on the market today. These mattresses are constructed from polyurethane molding that allows for conformity to the shape of the body.
Hybrid : Hybrid mattresses typically combine both memory foam and innerspring mattress technology. They allow for the body hugging feel of a memory foam mattress with the sturdiness and support of innerspring.
Something each of these mattress types will have in common are variations of firmness and style.
What's Right for Me?
It’s difficult to pin point pros and cons for each material without actually laying on the mattress itself. Mattress comfort depends so much on the individual, its difficult to know what's best without a trial. While one person may need the support of a firm latex model, another person may sleep best on a plush memory foam or hybrid.
We asked Aaron what to avoid when you venture out to buy your next mattress - he suggested staying away from pushy sales people. While no one likes to be in a pressure situation, if your mattress salesperson is steering you towards a model that isn’t right for you, you may find yourself in the market for another mattress sooner than you’d like.
Definition Sources: https://www.furniture.com/mattress
Good morning! Thursdays are typically as much of a surprise to us as they are to you – and today is no different. Choosing where to begin the hunt for some throwback inspiration is always the first step, but sometimes it takes a few attempts before something really sticks. While each piece that we find is interesting, choosing something to share almost always requires peeling back a few layers.
Inside the cabinet - this lock box houses several other vintage treasures
We’ve shared many items from the cabinet that we’ve found in an old metal lock box. The worn black box on the top shelf is filled with photos, old office supplies, vintage adverts, and more – but today we wanted to take a second look at the box itself. After all, its clearly an older item.
When we pulled the box out of the cabinet and looked around for clues, the container bore little to no markings. A simple lock on the front and its smaller size hinted that it could possibly be an old cash box, or personal lock box of some kind.
Due to its age and use , the box no longer closes perfectly as it had years ago
We took the larger items that it was holding out, dropping down the lid for a closer look, and what we found was a first initial followed by a last name. F. Fitterer is written in some sort of ink on the top of this container.
The words F. Fitterer are still visable on the box - we attribute these initials to co-founder Frank Fitterer ( 1870-1953)
For those who aren’t familiar with the Fitterer’s Furniture family legacy – Frank Fitterer was a co-founder of Fitterer’s Furniture, along with his older brother Phillip. Frank lived from 1870 to 1953 and Phillip purchased Frank’s share of the business in 1916. Its unclear whether this was something that Frank left behind after he left the family business, or simply a personal effect that made its way to the store at some point in history. While we can’t be sure what year this lock box dates back to, it’s clearly an antique – and a unique piece of history to find on a Thursday morning!
For more on the history of Fitterer’s Furniture, please take a look at the PDF booklet celebrating the 1996 centennial anniversary! Though so many years have passed, family and our customers remain the center of our focus here at Fitterer’s.
From our family to yours, have a safe and happy weekend – we’ll see you back here in two weeks!
We hope you’ve had a great week, and are doing well with all of your New Year’s resolutions – isn’t everyone?
This morning we decided to break from our regular norm and give you another blog for ‘Throwback Thursday’. Searching the cabinet for a photo of Brad (since we all know everyone loves Brad – maybe he should have had his own sitcom, instead of Raymond?), we found a little pamphlet that we hadn’t seen before.
This Pamphlet, no bigger than your standard smart phone today, is titled: ‘PLAN YOUR OWN 18th Century Room’. The bottom of the brochure has FITTERER BROS. Ellensburg, Wash. Printed across a white space.
As you open the tri-fold, beautiful artwork and text span the pages. The brand in the lower left hand corner lets us know that this advertising brochure was produced by Bigelow Weavers, a popular Rug and Carpet company from the mid 1800s to around the 1960s.
Typically, when we find something like this we try to find out about when it was made, who produced it, and why it was important. This one was a little tricky. What we were able to find though, was some information about the artwork spread across the 2nd and 3rd pages on the inside of the brochure. According to Historic New England 1 , this artwork was created in 1939 for rug, carpet, interior decoration and furnishing advertising pamphlets. You can read more of that information by clicking on any of the photos below.
The inside pages of the tri-fold Bigelow Weavers Pamplet we found this morning
The back pages of the pamphlet giving tips, and the latest Bigelow patterns
This particular pamphlet with the Fitterer Bros’ Branding is actually very reminiscent of some of today’s design blogs or online magazines. The company gives you tips for designing a room ‘from the floor up’ in order to set the color scheme, accent ‘delicate grace of the furniture’ , etc. They give some sample artwork of of their most popular new patterns that will help you to design your own 18th Century room. The back pages give tips for choosing your rug, and mention that ‘there’s a Bigelow grade and price for every room, every budget.’ It really is a great little vintage advertising piece.
We aren’t sure exactly when Fitterer’s received these pamphlets, but if the date of the interior artwork is prior to 1940 we are guessing this tri-fold is somewhere between 70 and 80 years old. Amazing- especially considering that its in such excellent shape! The colors remain vibrant, and there’s only a slight crease in the upper right hand corner. A fun find on this Thursday Morning!
Good Morning! It’s snowing here in Ellensburg – if you’re local and you’re driving please be safe! This morning we have a special throwback for you, and a blog to go along with it!
The famous Fitterer’s cash register was purchased (used) from another establishment in Ellensburg in the early 1900s. The ornate machine has been in the Fitterer building ever since. There's little in our downtown store that invokes more pride and nostalgia than this lovely cash register that sits back in the office.
This cash register has to be the single most talked about item in the store that’s not a sofa, armchair or another home furnishing. Customers love to come around and look at the register and its 10 drawers that go all the way to the floor. Each drawer opens with the crank handle and gives a different chime when opened up. In fact, yesterday, a couple from out of town made the comment: “If that cash register could talk...” We agree, if it had a voice, the stories would go on for years.
The cash register was manufactured by a company called the “National Cash Register Co.”, operating out of Dayton, OH. According to the label that is still fixed to the bottom of the first drawer, it was built in 1909. The sticker (pictured below) reads that the register was made for ‘The Big Store’ in Ellensburg – this was the store that the register was purchased (used) from sometime after they closed. Also noted on the affixed label is the sellers information, It reads: ‘ Sold by F.M. Slack in Tacoma, WA’. There are some additional labels with patent information as well (also pictured).
Cash Register Patent labels: found under the 'A' drawer of the cash register
Cash Register serial number, "made for" and "sold by" tag and information: found under the 'A' drawer of the cash register
Though it can’t talk, there are still many stories surrounding the cash register. One of the iconic stories that we enjoy sharing with our customers actually starts with a fire. When the building next door, The Webster apartment building, burnt down in the eighties the fire department actually came over to Fitterer’s to take the cash register out. They knew it was that important to the store!
We no longer ring up sales on the machine, but the cash register continues to be used daily at the store as a cash drawer and for supply storage. Naturally, it's been supplemented with an accompanying credit card machine as time has passed!
Photos of this iconic antique are always fun to take. We’ve had a few professional photographers capture the essence of the register over the years – and Brad loves a good cash register photo with his Grandsons!
If you get a chance to come down and take a look at the cash register, please do! We love to answer your questions and would be happy to show you how it works!
Brad Fitterer and Grandson Andrew at the iconic cash register
4th Generation owner Brad Fitterer in front of the antique cash register - photo by Rob Fraser
Christmas traditions certainly vary across the world and family to family. If your family is one that loves to gather around a great Christmas movie to get into the holiday spirit, chances are you have a ‘Go-To’ film on the shelf. While our list is in no way comprehensive, we chose a few favorites to share this week!
A Christmas Story : It’s no secret we love ‘A Christmas Story’ around here! Just take a look at our 2012 Christmas window. Leg lamps, the Bumpuses dogs, shooting your eye out..what’s not to love?
Our 2012 main Street Window in Downtown Ellensburg - Inspired by ' A Christmas Story'
A Charlie Brown Christmas: Another of our favorites! We actually featured this one in our Main Street Christmas window in 2014! Charles M. Schulz definitely knew how to make holiday specials that transcend time. The 1965 classic ‘ A Charlie Brown Christmas’ has been digitally remastered, and continues to be a favorite among family cable networks every season! 1
Our 2013 main Street Window in Downtown Ellensburg - Inspired by ' A Charlie Brown Christmas'
Elf: We have definitely celebrated our share of holiday movie favorites in our past Christmas windows - Elf was our 2013 feature! Though Elf hasn’t been around for generations, it does turn about 14 years old this year! Will Farrell’s performance as Buddy the Elf in this newer Christmas classic puts a smile on faces of all ages. With no shortage of laughs, it’s a feel good way to get into the spirit of the holidays!
“First we'll make snow angels for a two hours, then we'll go ice skating, then we'll eat a whole roll of Tollhouse Cookiedough as fast as we can, and then we'll snuggle.”
- Buddy the Elf 2
Our 2014 main Street Window in Downtown Ellensburg - Inspired by ' Elf'
The Santa Claus : Tim Allen’s 1995 Christmas film, ‘The Santa Claus’ won several awards in 1995, including an MTV Movie award, Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice award and a People’s Choice award. The story of a man who accidentally kills Santa and has to take his place was so popular, it became a trilogy with two more films to follow. 3
How the Grinch Stole Christmas: This beloved Dr. Seuss story has been made into both cartoon and live action films- people of all ages have enjoyed the tale of the Grinch who palnned to ruin Christmas in Whoville. There’s even a new version of this great Christmas classic coming in 2018! 4
As we mentioned before, this is in no way a comprehensive list of Christmas movie favorites. “Miracle on 34th Street” , “It’s a Wonderful Life” , “Home Alone”, the list could go on forever! No matter what you’re watching this year we wish you and yours a Merry Christmas and Happy New year!
-All of us at Fitterer’s Furniture!