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Urania Commissary



The old Urania Commissary looms large in the memory of most Uranians. It was built in 1925, after the original one burned. It was the heart of the town and consisted of drug store with a soda fountain, post office, ladies and men’s clothing, groceries, meat market and a few hardware items.


The mezzanine as shown was used for storage and the top floor was the Masonic Hall. This building was sold to an individual and continued as a grocery store until it also burned in the 1970’s.

The following was compiled by Forrest Cook and Jerry Harris in 2008:

Not much is known about the original commissary building but from what scant records that do exist, it seems that it was built in the very early 1900’s.* Part of that is based on the records of the Charles F. Buck Masonic Lodge that was chartered in December of 1897. For the first few years of the lodge’s existence, their meetings were held in Olla and it is surmised that after the first commissary was built, the lodge met in a hall on the second floor. So, our best guess is that it was built sometime around 1902.

Following is the only known picture of that building and the occasion for the picture was a meeting of the forestry association in 1917 with the members assembled alongside. The only known participant at that meeting was Henry E. Hardtner, President and CEO of the lumber company, who was known as the Father of Southern Reforestation. He is identified near the center of the picture with his young daughter, Violet Urania kneeling in front of Mr. Hardtner. It is quiet certain that his brother, Quincy T. Hardtner who was the Secretary Treasurer of the company, was also in the picture as well as their father, Ernst J. Hardtner.

According to Mr. Henry “Digger” Ates who I interviewed several years before his death, this building burned in 1925 and was replaced by the one many of us knew as youngsters.

Unfortunately, all records of the people that worked during the existence of this first commissary have been lost in a fire that destroyed the lumber company offices, as well as most of the company records. I do have some accounting records that were saved by an individual. The company commissary here in Urania, as well as the one at Hinton Camp in Winn Parish, were lucrative businesses; mainly due to the fact that the sawmill workers were paid in script which was only good at the company owned businesses. In a later article we will cover the “coupon books” that were issued in lieu of cash money until the government clamped down on the practice. But the company had the last laugh, IE: they paid off in silver dollars and you can imagine carrying enough of that heavy money to buy from another business establishment in another town or city.

If anyone has further information about this first company commissary, we would certainly welcome that.

E. Forrest Cook and Jerry M. Harris

The Urania Commissary through the years:

*This picture, found after Dad wrote the above, is believed to be a picture of the original Commissary.







band_in_front_of _commissary


As the space looks today

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