In an age when small, locally-owned and operated hardware stores are becoming a thing of the past, Riverside is losing one of its own.
The Do-It Center at the corner of Jurupa and Grand avenues will soon be no more.
Most of us longer-time Riversiders remember this business as the latest incarnation of what was Center Lumber, located on Magnolia Avenue just north of the Union Pacific Railroad tracks in Magnolia Center. Center Lumber, though, was the third incarnation of that business.
The enterprise started way back in 1913 as the McCormick Lumber Company. In that year, Charles McCormick of San Francisco began a small chain of lumber outlets throughout the west coast. McCormick stayed in San Francisco while local man Archie Palmer, an investor in the company, managed the operation, located on what is today University Avenue at the Santa Fe Railroad tracks. The McCormick Lumber Company was a true all-in-one operation, as it had lumber-bearing properties in Oregon and Washington state together with its own sawmills. Over the next 15 years, the McCormick Lumber Company grew into a huge conglomerate with millions of dollars in revenue.
By 1929, McCormick Lumber was liquidating the company. In March, 1930, a Fontana lumber yard operator named Duff S. Hansen purchased the Riverside outlet of McCormick Lumber and renamed the enterprise Hansen Lumber. In late 1937, the old building that had housed the original lumber company collapsed due to overweight. Instead of rebuilding, Hansen opted to move the operation to Magnolia Avenue at the railroad tracks. This new operation was open by February 1938, still under the Hansen Lumber name.
Hansen Lumber continued for nearly 20 years and became known as an excellent business. On April 1, 1955, though, a large advertisement appeared in the newspaper announcing that the operation would be expanded and renamed to Center Lumber. The term Center Lumber was probably in reference to the fact that it was in the Magnolia Center area of Riverside.
Center Lumber was the “go-to” place for many residents in central Riverside, especially those who had older homes. It seemed as though Center Lumber had the parts necessary to fix old plumbing fixtures, light fixtures, appliances, etc., probably because it had been there since many of those houses had been built!
Progress, though, made keeping Center Lumber there impossible. A major reworking of Magnolia Avenue to re-route it and also construct an undercrossing at the railroad meant that Center Lumber had to move, which it did to an industrial complex at the southeast corner of Jurupa and Van Buren avenues. At that time, it officially stopped using the name Center Lumber, joining the Do-It Center conglomeration, but many still called it Center Lumber.
It was only several months ago that the Do-It Center moved back closer to its Magnolia Center roots, relocating in part of what had been Ray’s Foods at Jurupa and Grand. However, like many small businesses, it had troubles and the decision was made to close it, thus ending a business that has existed in one way or another in Riverside since 1913.
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