I often get asked what exactly "The Hub" I keep writing about is. Well, it's actually two things. First and foremost, it's the name I've chosen to keep calling the building (actually two connected buildings built in the 1870's) that housed the historic Hub Shoe Store in Marshall through three generations of the same family from 1897 to 2001, and which I purchased and renovated in 2009-2010 into my law firm's Marshall office, including visiting lawyer space for trials. It hosted three trials in 2013, for example - I think we've hosted our cocounsel in about a dozen patent trials since we opened the space in 2010.
During the renovation we deliberately divided the exterior into two facades to add some visual interest to the streetscape. On the right side, it echoes the 1897 storefront with red brick and green striped awning, but on the left it keeps the tan stucco and black tile with smaller awning that it had from the late '40's till the late '60s (and of course we left space for the historic marker it received in late 2011). But, again, it's something of a misnomer since the entire building inside is connected - we just use the east side as trial space for visiting lawyers. When we don't have any we close the doors, shut off life support (i.e., air conditioning) and my 11-year olds are happy because we're being eco-friendly by only using one side.
But "the Hub" is also the name used locally to refer to the store's trademark oversized wagon wheel hub sign on a post out front. To you and me, it looks like a barrel or a beer keg, but when it went up in 1897, it was pretty obvious to locals what it was - at right is a photo of what it was modelled after. (When I was little and visited my grandfather's stationery store which was two doors down on the corner of Austin and Bolivar I got into my head that it was what was between the back wheels of cars and what made the hump in the back seat of my mother's station wagon. For all I know about cars that might still be right).
We tried to clarify things a bit last week by replacing the sign out front on the visiting lawyer side with a closer replica of the sign it had from the late '40's until it was covered with an aluminum facade in the 1960's. Yesterday we got a surprise when the Marshall News Messenger ran a photo of most of the store facade in the early 1950's. It's the only photo I've ever seen that showed it after the black tile and neon sign was added, but before the siding went up.
We were fortunate (and startled) when the facade came down in 2009 to find the old neon sign we'd heard about (but never seen) still up. We moved it to a place of honor inside of the building and replaced it with a temporary wooden replica (shown at right). But the new metal one - which replicates the material and construction of the original - looks a whole lot better.
We decided the delete the word "offices" from the sign, where since 2010 it has subbed in for the words "shoe store" to make the signage inside and outside the building consistent. The identification of the building as "guest offices" with contact information is on the front window.