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Luther W. Allen, Jr.
by Larry Foerster


Old photo taken on Simonton Street
circa 1930

This week of July 31, 2021, I was given this photo taken of Luther W. Allen, Sr. circa 1930 (he died in 1934).  Allen is in the middle holding a string of catfish with two unidentified men on either side in front of the Madeley Building who are holding two strings of smaller fish.  The photo was provided by his grandson Mike Allen who is now in his 80’s and lives in Houston.  Photos like this provide meaningful information as we research the earlier history of downtown buildings in Montgomery County. 

Luther Allen owned a meat market on Simonton Street in the Madeley Building circa 1920s-1930s.  He appears to be wearing his shop apron.  Perhaps the men caught the catfish and smaller fish in Grand Lake or San Jacinto River, and were selling them to Allen.

Luther Allen served on the Conroe City Council in the 1930’s as you can see in the attached photo circa 1932 when Conroe’s city hall was a log cabin on the SE corner of the Courthouse Square.   Allen is in the middle of the line of local dignitaries.  Since George Strake is in the photo, it has to be dated after he discovered oil east of Conroe in 1932 and became a local celebrity.    Perhaps this photo at city hall was taken of Strake with city and county officials to celebrate the oil boom brought on by Strake’s discovery.

At any rate, the photo on Simonton Street confirms that the popular B and C Coffee Shop (later relocated to the first floor of the old Capital Drug/Masonic Lodge building on Main Street) was once located in the Madeley Building.   This is an exciting discovery for our historic surveys of downtown Conroe buildings currently being conducted by Frank and Merilyn Hersom. 

The photo therefore helps us determine other former tenants of the Madeley Building, including  Conroe Telephone upstairs (note the telephone sign off the second floor) and the downstairs Central Cleaners (later Midway Cleaners).

Note the Central Cleaners panel delivery truck in the far right portion of the photo with its 3-digit phone number: 224.  Home delivery of cleaning was common in the early 1900’s when delivery men often walked into the owner’s house and placed the cleaning in the closets if the owner was gone.  (Doors were seldom locked back then.)


The Gentry Building is in the background on the corner.  Also notice that Simonton Street is unpaved.  City paving did not begin until 1933, so that further helps to date the photo as pre-1933.  


Larry L. Foerster, Chairman

Montgomery County Historical Commission


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