Pre-1929: History of the Property

Mid- to late 1800s — Local resident A.B Cassill owned the land on which the Avery Theater now sits. He built a house the land, which later became one of Garner’s early hotels: Cassill House. Sometime in the mid- to late 1800s. Mr. Cassill beautified the property by transplanting an elm tree from a grove located near Clear Lake. That tree is believed to be the first tree planted in the town of Garner. (see also Jan. 30, 1946 entry)

news paper clipping from 1969 Garner Leader shows the 400 Block of State Street in the winter. A horse-drawn sleigh stands in the street with the old City Hall in the background. A portion of the wood frame building originally on the site of the Avery Theater is just visible adjacent to City Hall.

400 Block State Street, 1901

Winter 1901 — The Haes brothers are photographed on State Street in the horse-drawn cutter (open sleigh) in the area where the Avery will ultimately be constructed. The two-story brick building in the upper-right corner of the photo is the former City Hall (current Chamber of Commerce) immediately north and adjacent to the Avery building. The wooden frame home, likely built by the Cassill family, is just visible on the edge of the photo.

March 1905 – The property, owned by Mr. John and Mrs. Catherine Ulrich, contains a private residence, or wood frame building.

Jan. – Feb. 1913 — After the death of Mr. Ulrich, Catherine chose to move to a small house on her son George’s property in Klemme. The Estate then sold the property to Mary E. (Mrs. J.H.) Basford, a widow.

Jan. 29, 1914 – A.L. and Bessie J. Cushman, formerly of Oregon County, Missouri, purchased the property. Known about town simply as “Cush,” Mr. Cushman opened a billiard hall on south Main, or State, Street. He passed away on July 28, 1923. When Mrs. Cushman chose to move closer to family, the property sat vacant for some time.

Nov. 12, 1924 — According to the published Delinquent Tax list, the property was $804.98 in arrears.

June 11, 1925 – First National Bank purchased the property from the A.L. Cushman estate for the price of $50, which satisfied an outstanding debt.

July 14, 1927 – Hancock County Investment Co. under the leadership of O.K. Maben, president; and Chris Jacobs, secretary, gains title to Lots 5-6, of Block 25 Original Town. Already the town was looking for options that would bring a “modern motion picture theater” to Garner.  Silent films were being shown at the Lyric Theater, an older wooden structure located at the site of what is now Garner Public Library, 416 State Street.