HANNIBAL — For the past six months, two generations of family members have been adding a fresh look at 305 N. Main St. and bringing back a decades-old tradition to downtown Hannibal.
In the early 1990s, Wilma Wear owned Mrs. Clemens Antique Mall with her husband, Ron. They sold the store in 2008, and their son grew up learning from his father's 50 years of experience in the antiques business. His wife, Kathy, has learned countless details about antiques since she met her husband and when she worked in the store in the 1990s. Both generations are working together on extensive remodeling efforts to the circa-1800s building — in October, they plan to have a soft opening of the new Clemens General Store and Antiques.
Mike and Kathy Wear agreed that the Victorian architectural details like the stars at their store add to the historic flair of Main Street, and the effects continue to spread to neighboring businesses.
“It looks a lot nicer down here,” Mike Wear said.
“It is nice to walk up and down the street at night — with the lights in the trees and along the buildings,” Kathy Wear said. “We've spent a lot more time outside downtown here since we've been doing that and enjoyed it.”
Wear said she loves to discover the stories that surround the people who come to visit and the tales related to the antiques. She recalled how a patron who had just lost her mother came to the shop after moving to Hannibal in 1999. She was still working through feelings of grief, and she was overcome with memories of her late mother when she saw one item upstairs.
Mike Wear pulled up a photo on his phone of a 10-foot tall rosewood bed set made in the 1840s in Cincinnati Ohio by Mitchell and Rammelsberg. From there, it traveled by steamship to New Orleans, then to Baton Rouge, La. The ornate set spent decades in a plantation home before it made a return trip back north — this time by way of Wear's truck and trailer.
Kathy Wear said she loved the Victorian details that shine through on the storefront following a restoration by employees with Patriot Painting and Project Services. And she and her husband said there will be many antiques from the Victorian era when Mark Twain was alive. Furniture, toys, paper goods, arts and crafts and other items from the 1850s to the 1920 will be on hand with price tags ranging from affordable to more expensive.
As they continue with projects like constructing a wooden counter and assembling vintage display cases, each family member is looking forward to coming full circle with a store that evokes memories of a bygone era once again.
“I think it's a perfect fit for Hannibal,” Kathy Wear said.
Pat Waelder, owner of the Hickory Stick Quilt and Gift Shop, expressed her excitement about the rejuvenation work at the historic building.
“I think it's wonderful,” Waelder said. “I think it's a true asset to the area.”