Warrenton’s historic Hoelscher Building honors its past and embraces the future

Boonslick Old Trails Garage photo circa 1930
Mechanics and patrons pose in front of the present-day Hoelscher Building, circa 1925. This photo has been digitally enhanced for contrast.

Building has long history with varied uses, starting with the Boonslick Old Trail Garage

Gary Scott and Bill Woolf are restoring a building in Warrenton that has, at times, included an automobile garage, a beauty salon, a title office, a law office and library, a jewelry store, a beauty parlor, and a Selective Service Office. Soon it will add event center and mercantile shop to its long list of tenants. If the walls of the Hoelscher Building at 109-113 West Booneslick Road could talk, it would tell you the people who have walked through its doors would be proud to know it is still faithfully in service today.

Built at the end of a commercial string of buildings along Warrenton’s Main Street, directly across from the Warren County Courthouse, the humble brick building was originally used as an automobile garage as early as 1913. Proprietor A.F. Sievert began promoting the Overland 83 Touring Car for $750 and told eager buyers to come to Boonslick (sic) Old Trail Garage for a test drive. 

An old photo of Richard Issenman with his Chevrolet truck, circa 1950.
Richard Issenman poses with his Chevrolet truck. This photo has been digitally enhanced to remove dust, scratches, and enhance contrast.

In October 1915, brothers Richard and Edward Isenmann purchased the garage business and continued operating it under the same name and selling Chevrolet automobiles for the next 37 years. In August 1925, the brothers purchased most of the adjoining lot.

Amid the clang of wrenches and the roar of engines, newfangled automobiles hummed along Booneslick Road with easy entry and exit off the street. In the evening, motor oil, fuel, and other vehicular waste was hosed out the garage bay doors. The large windows brandished recognizable Firestone tire and tube emblems to passersby.

In 1919, a notice appeared to all Warren County residents reminding them to pay their Poll Tax, payable at the convenient, centrally-located Old Trail Garage, lest they be penalized with late fines. At times around 1925, the garage continued to be a central community gathering spot and operated with a day and night shift of employees, making it one of the few 24-hour operations in the county. 

Despite the shop’s growth, the downturn in the economy caused the Isenmann brothers to lose the property at a tax sale in June 1929. They rebounded, likely sometime during or after their service in World War II, and recovered ownership of the property and the use of their garage.

A photograph of Boonslick Road Old Trail Garage owned by the Isenmann Brothers circa 1960.
Four unidentified men, likely workers and the Isennman Brothers, pose outside the Boonslick Old Trail Garage. This photo has been digitally enhanced for contrast.

The Isenmann brothers continued to own the building even after selling the garage business to Norman Glossmeyer in 1958. Glossmeyer, a native of Peers, had been working in the garage for 17 months prior to purchasing the business. 

An old sign from the mechanic's garage encouraging people to "Replace worn spark plugs".
Work crews have discovered old signs and artifacts from the building, including this sign from the garage. Photo courtesy Gary Scott.

In two years, the garage changed hands again, this time to Marion Davis and his sons Darrell and Dale. The three men leased the garage portion of the building and began advertising it as a Mobil service station. They continued to pay a lease to the Isenmann brothers until the brothers fully retired in 1961. Edward Isenmann died in October 1969. His brother Richard died in July 1972. 

On the other end of the building, a doctor’s office and the Selective Service Office set up operations in the early sixties. To old-timers in the region, the building likely may have been the launching point of a career or stint in the armed services. Draftees into the Vietnam War recall getting their physical exam at the doctor’s office under orders from the SSO. 

Robert Hoelscher started his first law practice in the Kind Building on Main Street straight out of law school in 1950, then moved later to the Recorder’s Building. In 1953 he was elected Warren County Prosecuting Attorney and served until 1967. Needing a new office for his part-time civil practice and part-time prosecutatorial role, he bought the West Booneslick Road with plumber Jack Riggle in June 1961. Hoelscher took over full ownership in 1967 and renamed the building what most of us recognize today as the Hoelscher Building. Hoelscher died in 1986.

“The building still contains Robert Hoelscher’s law library located in the same office,” says Gary Scott, the newest owner of the Hoelscher Building. That space is currently used by Dan Jaspering’s bail bonds office. Scott is dramatically changing the use of the building, restoring much of its facade to a more faithful representation of its original design.

Workers are shown renovating the inside of the Hoelscher Building, currently located at 908-913 West Booneslick Road in Warrenton
Workers are shown renovating the inside of the Hoelscher Building, currently located along Main Street and West Booneslick Road in Warrenton. The front fo the building includes more windows, similar to its original design and use as a garage. Photo courtesy Gary Scott.
Two workers install windows and doors on the front of the revamped Hoelscher Building in downtown Warrenton, Missouri, June 2023.
Two workers install windows and doors on the front of the revamped Hoelscher Building in downtown Warrenton, Missouri, June 2023. Photo courtesy Gary Scott.

“We gutted the building except for the original law offices and repaired the stamped metal wall covering where we could,” says Scott. “We removed the brick from the front and installed a new glass storefront that resembles the original design of the building.” 

Indeed, the building’s original design featured nearly floor-to-ceiling garage bay doors, windows, and entryways. Recent photos prior to the current renovation show a slight change in the brickwork where the spacious windows and doors were removed and covered up, likely sometime in the late 1960s or early 1970s after garages ceased operation there and the building’s use turned less mechanical and more professional services or retail.

“The new tenant for the remodeled section of the building will be Maggie Grace on Main. It will consist of two entities, an event center available for rent for showers, parties, classes, community activities, and meetings,” says Scott. “The other [tenant] is a mercantile providing gift items, home décor, do-it-yourself supplies, and personal accessories.” Both businesses are expected to open in August 2023.

The renovation project is not a designated Historic Site, but Scott, Woolf, and the renovation crews have been true to the building’s historical uses and aesthetic, giving attention to street access and retaining its use as a building of great public use. The building dedication and grand opening for the new business will be on August 26, 2-5 p.m.

Editor’s note: select images on this page have been digitally enhanced for contrast, clarity, and/or size. A caption beneath edited images indicates how.

Works cited in this piece include:

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