208 Main Street
Backstory and Context
Frank G. Hertzler, son of Dr. John Hertzler, operated a hardware store at this 208 Main Street site in partnership with Matthew Harvey Anderson, the banker who lived at 17 Front Street. Frank built and resided in the house at 25 Front Street. The original store structure here was destroyed in the 1912 fire, and the tax office records of the county show that the current building was constructed in 1940.
A couple of years after Robert Edgar (“Pud”) True and his wife Gladys McFarlen True moved to Madison, they bought the building and operated a grocery store from 1944 to 1976. In fact, during their first three months in Madison, the True's rented a room in the former residence of Frank Hertzler at 25 Front Street.
For a time this building was also operated as an annex to the post office.when the post office was located next door in the 206 Main Street location.
According to the 1890 Hartford Insurance Company map of Madison, an early structure at 210 Main was the office of Dr. Richard M. Fletcher. A later use of the location according to the 1905 Alabama Mercantile Book was the drugstore of Pride & Bradford.
Thomas Logan Bradford was only 35 years old when he committed suicide by taking an overdose of morphine from this drugstore. He had married Fannie Burton, a daughter of John Mullins Burton, who owned the competing drugstore at the 216 Main location. The Bradfords had bought the house at 306 Church Street in 1906 and had a daughter born there. Thomas had been employed by his father-in-law for a while, but resigned to go into partnership in the store at 210 Main by about 1904. His suicide note mentioned failing health and business losses.
After the passing of Tom Bradford, there are indications the drug store reopened as the Phoenix Drugstore. However, it may have also been the name for the rebuilt store after the fire of 1912 heavily damaged the structure. Tom's wife Fannie moved into her father's house at 21 Front Street and wrote a weekly column about Madison for the Huntsville newspaper for the remainder of her life.
A vintage comic book business utilized the 208 building in the 1990s, but it was later renovated by Walt and Larry Anderson to become the Bandito Burrito restaurant. The restaurant occupied not only 208 Main, but it later included the location at 210 Main Street.
The Madison Drug Company was established at 210 Main by Dr. Luther Wikle and his partner Ben Porter in 1912. It may then have been given the name of the Phoenix Drugstore. Wikle later sold his interest to William Russell, a son of the constable of that name who also ran the gristmill for which Mill Road is named.
Since 2015 208 and 210 Main have been occupied by Old Black Bear Brewing. Old Black Bear is a favorite hangout for locals and guests. Often on Friday nights during the summer there is live music on the patio to the east of 210 Main.