The first known building on the spot that is now 9 Main Street was a wooden structure that shows up in the same photo depicting the corner of Main and Clinton that has been featured in past posts. The earliest I can trace the businesses back is to a gentleman names James Van Valen who came to Cortland from Madison County and kept a “cash and barter” store from 1845. An ad from 1849 shows it came under the ownership of Daniel Schermerhorn who advertised his takeover of Van Valen’s “old stand” with new a stock of dry goods, groceries, and hardware.
In the 1860s-1880s, Daniel Bradford managed a book and drug store there.
He was succeeded by Albert C. Carr, a merchant from Preble, who several years later was accused of fraud and grand larceny. Charles H. Price & Co. took over the spot in 1883 with his grocery store.
In August of 1884, an article in the Cortland Democrat announced that C.H. Price had leased the lot located on the corner of Lincoln Avenue and N. Main Street and would be moving the building to continue his grocery business there. It remained as the oldest building on Main Street until it was brought down in the 1970s as part of the Neighborhood Development Program that remains controversial to this day. The removal of the old structure from no.9 would make way for a new brick building more suitable for a growing business district. This would become known as the Beard Building.
When Randolph Beard started his furniture business around 1875 it was located on Groton Avenue. Nine years later his son Robert joined and it was known as R. Beard & Son. Around 1884, after the removal of the building at #9, Randolph put up the new Beard Building. It immediately met with some controversy as Margaret Dexter, present owner of the Dexter House, sued him for encroachment on the right of way that allowed her carriage access to the back of her building. While it was determined that Mrs. Dexter had the right to decree that Mr. Beard remove four and six-tenths feet of his new building, it appears there was ultimately a monetary settlement.
Randolph’s stake in the business was bought out by N.J. Peck, and Beard & Peck operated for the next 14 years, adding undertaking to their services in 1891. Robert H. Beard would go on to independently continue the undertaking business, while Peck remained with Peck Furniture. Peck’s Furniture would change locations to Central Ave and be replaced at no.9 by B.E. Widger & Co. with hardware, furnaces, stoves, and plumbing.
The Beard Building has remained relatively unchanged ever since, aside from the businesses in and out of it:
1923- The Ashley Press; Matthew’s Store (apparel); Franklin Department Store
1935- Johnson & Thorp, barbers; The Harper Shop, beauty parlor; Leadley Drug Co.
1944- Con-O-Lite Corp; Kalos Beauty Shop; Marine Lounge, servicemen club room
1955- Leslie L. Newman, chiropractor; Alpert’s, jewelers & opticians
1965- Allen N. Dittman, beautician; The Jewel Box
1975- McAllister TV
1985- Montelone’s Pizzeria