A brick building by the railroad tracks on Main Street in Dallas has been vacant for about 30 years, but someone is keeping it active by dressing up deer heads attached to the front.
“I don’t know who does it,” Paulding County Historian Jason Edwards said of the deer heads that currently sport graduation caps and gowns. “I’ve never seen anybody down there do that.”
The building, owned originally by Dr. T.J. Foster and George W. Lawrence, was constructed in 1884 as a two-story structure with space for commercial businesses on the bottom floor. The top story was designed as a hotel. The 10 rooms gave it space for not just sleeping chambers but also for a large dining and cook room.
Foster wanted to build a structure to replace his former wooden hotel by the railroad tracks that burned along with all but one of the other buildings in the area known as Dallas New Town in 1884. Foster ran the hotel, called The Foster House Hotel, until 1903, when Mrs. J.H. Baxter began to run it, likely as its manager. At that time, the first floor was used as offices for the Seaboard Railroad, which was being built where the Silver Comet Trail is now. There also was a commissary for contractors in the building.
Later that year, on Dec. 22, a fire started in one of the upstairs rooms, the building burned, and the rooms were gutted. The building was a total loss, and damages totaled $5,000. The structure was built as a one-story building.
“You can see the change in the brick work,” Edwards said. “If you know what you’re looking for, you can see they salvaged what they could and then made a cap.”
After the fire, the building sat vacant until 1905, when Jasper Clay and his son, William Harrison Clay, purchased it from Foster’s estate.
“They would have been the ones that fixed it up and made it look like it is now,” Edwards said.
The Clays rented out the building somewhere between 1905-1913 to Monroe Cooper, who used it for a grocery store. In fact, that’s how most people remember the structure, Edwards said.
“Most people refer to it as Monroe Cooper’s store still because that’s what it was for most of the time people remember it,” he said.
In 1913, Cooper bought the building from the Clays and continued to run his store until his death in 1939. At that time, his son, Russom Cooper, took it over and ran the store until 1957. It was during that time that the Coca-Cola sign with the name R.P. Cooper was painted on the side of the building.
The building was used for Lambert’s Shoe Repair from 1957-1981. Since the early 1980s, though, it has remained vacant. There are no current plans for its use.