Towle & Leavitt is located in the J.M. Bean Building, built in 1851. Our story begins in April 1855 when Harry Smith, an agent for Pacific Express, sold his store to Robert Towle and Albert Leavitt. Mr. Leavitt was a purveyor of dry goods and clothing. Not much is known about Robert Towle. He was in business with Mr. Leavitt for only a short time. Over the years, the building survived a number of fires. It was also the home for many businesses. In 1961, Columbia was declared a State Historic Park in 1949 and a National Landmark in 1961.
In 1969 my parent, Robert and MaryAnn Hyde, took over management of the store from two sisters - Stella Hawthorne and Alice Crocker. I was just 5 years old at the time and my sister Josie was 3. Soon after we moved to Columbia two more sisters joined my family - Justeen and JJ. The four of us felt like we grew up on the set of Little House on the Prairie. Which is kind of true because quite a few popular western TV shows and movies were filmed here, including Little House on the Prairie, Bonanza, The Lone Ranger, High Noon, The Big Valley, The A-Team and hundreds of other productions. Columbia was a wonderful place to grow up. My sisters and I remember fondly spending time working at Towle & Leavitt when we were kids and throughout our teenage years.
My mother, MaryAnn, ran the store until her passing in 2015. She truly loved Columbia and her community. Before her death, my Mother asked me to take over running the store. I happily accepted. I'm honored to keep this tradition alive and to be among other families who have had family-run businesses for many years. The Hyde family has a long history in Columbia State Historic Park and a close relationship with many in the local community.
I invite you to bring your family to Columbia and help keep its history alive. We want visitors from around the world to get a sense of what the Wild West was like in 1852. When you are here, come by and visit us at Towle & Leavitt. Our family-run country store is a living piece of history that I know you will love!