221 Georgia was built Circa 1866.1
We have found that Ayres had a shop here from at least 1868 although he had a number of partners before he went it alone.
The first business to establish themselves at 221 Georgia that we know of was Ayres & Hawkins per the 1872 Pocket Gazetteer. We found this write up under the Louisiana Business Notices:
Ayres & Hawkins
“Wholesale and Retail Dealers in Dry Goods, Hats, Caps, Boots, Shoes, & etc. These gentlemen established business in 1868, and by industry and fair dealing, today, own and control, the leading Dry Goods establishment of the place. Their store is 20 x 98 feet, and their shelves are literally packed, and their counters piled with the finest lines of goods to be found in this market consisting in part of Ladies’ Dress Goods of the latest and most fashionable varieties, Hats, Caps, Boots and Shoes, Trimmings, Notions, etc. They are now selling the above articles to the retail trade, at a very slight advance on wholesale rates, and to country merchants, they offer superior inducements at wholesale. They sell at St. Louis figures. They have in connection with this store, a large and well regulated Merchant Tailoring Establishment, where complete suits are manufactured in any style to suit their customers also a large line of Cloths, Cassimeres, Vestings, and Gents Furnishings Goods, both domestic and imported. These gentlemen are enterprising, and are at all times ready with their money and influence, to encourage any scheme that has for its purpose the general weal of the public.”2
A.B. Ayres & Co. Amos B. Ayres and John T. Hesser ran a dry goods and tailor store in this location in 1875.3
The Mercantile Bank was first established in 1880 in this building. Articles of Association were filed with Alexander A Lessueur, Missouri Secretary of State on January 29, 1891. According to the Deed of Record for Pike County, MO, The capital stock was $50,000.00 divided into shares of $100.00 each. Original majority stockholders were: W. G. Tinsley (170), A. Tinsley (60), T.L. Tinsley (40), A.J. McCune (50), W. N. Tinsley (40), John E. Shannon (12), John J. McCune (12), John A. Mackey (12), A. Pribe (12), M. Morris (10), J. W. Dreyfus (12), D. A. Ball (10), T.M. Rhea (24), Marcus Dreyfus (12), I. N. Jump (12), and G. R. Waddell (12).
The business of the Corporation was to be managed by a board of thirteen directors with the following being the Board of Directors for the first year: W.G. Tinsley, A. Tinsley, W.N. Tinsley, A.J. McCune, John A. Mackey, T.M. Rhea, J. E. Shannon, G. R. Waddell, I.N. Jump, M. Dreyfus, J.J. McCune, A. Pribe, and D.A. Ball.
1The stores 211, 213, 219 & 221 Georgia were owned by Dr. Ezekiel Merrell Bartlett per the 1868 Pike County real estate records and valued at $8,000. The $8,000 for the four buildings compared to the other buildings on that block lead me to believe the current buildings were in place in 1868. The September 1885 Sanborn maps show brick buildings with the same footprint as the current buildings when allowing for the outdoor patio which is behind 215-219. Considering the above facts we believe the buildings were built Circa 1866.
2“Louisiana Business Notices.” First Annual Pocket Gazetteer and Business Advertiser of Pike County, MO for 1872, 1872, 55.
3 “Hawley’s Classified Business Directory (1875-1876).” n.d. Louisiana, Missouri.