In September of 1914, the Hopkinsville Kentuckian newspaper featured a brief profile of James Knox Hooser, a local tailor, as the 52nd biographical sketch in a series the paper called “People of Prominence in the Pearl City of the Pennyroyal.”
The story included a glowing review of Hooser’s talents as a garment-maker in downtown Hopkinsville. Born in Todd County in 1869, he had come to Hopkinsville just shy of his 20th birthday to learn the tailor’s trade. Five years later, he had gone into business for himself.
The newspaper profile included this: “Mr. Hooser is first of all recognized as a thorough master of his line of trade. He possesses a genius for pleasing his customers, has exquisite taste and is reliable and liberal in his dealings. He has many customers who have been steady patrons for all these years and who will stay with him as long as they have to buy clothes.”
Around 1912, Hooser moved his shop into a South Main Street storefront near the courthouse. The 1886 building constructed for E.W. Henderson was originally a grocery.
In the summer of 1914, Hooser put his mark on the building with the installation of a decorative, colored-glass panel above the front entrance. It read, “J.K. Hooser, The Tailor.”
Hooser died in 1952 and is buried at Riverside Cemetery beside his wife, Elisabeth Edmunds Hooser, who died 20 years earlier.
Today the most prominent memorial to the tailor from Todd County remains at his old shop. The glass panel bearing his name in blue letters survives at 610 S. Main St.
I walk by this building and the tailor’s sign several times a week. It is next door to another 1880s building where I rent a small, second-floor office for Hoptown Chronicle.
I didn’t know how long Hooser’s beautiful glass sign had been a witness to his legacy until I searched old newspaper archives for clues. It turns out I have one of my favorite Hopkinsville figures — journalist and mayor Charles Meacham, who published the Hopkinsville Kentuckian and wrote many of the paper’s articles — to thank for the detail about when Hooser installed the glass sign at his tailor’s shop.
My interest is timely. The building that once housed a grocery and then a tailor’s shop will be auctioned on Friday, May 7. Bolinger Real Estate and Auction is handling the sale for attorney Lester Benny Guier.
Pre-bidding on the 3,460-square-foot building will begin Monday, April 26, on the auctioneer’s website.
Guier has owned the building since 1992, when he purchased it for $37,000, according to the county deed. Its current assessed value for taxes is $120,000.
I think a lot of people are hoping the auction gives the building a good future. It stands in a beautiful block among other three other buildings that have been renovated.
Stay tuned. We could soon learn what’s next for the historic property.