J.M. McCoach & Co.


In 1916, an unidentified artist published “Just for Fun,”
a portfolio of sketches of leading Huntington
businessmen, including J.M. McCoach.

Courtesy of Jerry Sutphin


HUNTINGTON — John M. McCoach was born Dec. 28, 1866,
in Sistersville, West Virginia. He was educated in Sistersville,
 after which he clerked for a while in one of the local stores.

In 1889, McCoach came to Huntington and first worked for Harvey,
 Hagen & Co. wholesale grocers. He later left that firm and
set himself up in the wholesale fruit business. He soon
made a specialty of handling apples, shipping
 large quantities of them to stores all over the
 South and even exporting some abroad.

As president of J.M. McCoach & Co. he built Huntington’s
 first cold storage business at 2nd Avenue and 11th Street.
Meanwhile, a competing firm had started building
a six-story building at 1301 7th Ave.

When the building was completed, the firm didn’t have enough money to
pay for its construction, so it was sold at public auction. McCoach
 bought it and moved his cold storage business there. Four
 artesian wells drilled on the property enabled McCoach
 to manufacture as much as 120 tons of
 high-quality ice per day.

Depending on the season, the cold storage plant
employed between 50 and 75 men in the
 handling and shipping of apples
 and other produce.

As a public-spirited citizen, McCoach played an active role
 in the community. He was a member of Huntington
Lodge 128, Ancient Free and Accepted
 Masons, and Huntington Lodge
313, Benevolent and
 Protective Order
 of Elks.

Still standing after more than 100 years, McCoach’s 7th Avenue
 building has had several owners since his cold storage company
went out of business in 1941. From 1947 to 1959, the General
Cigar Co. used the building to manufacture its White Owl
 brand cigars. In 1962, General Cigar sold the building
 to Frigid Storage. The former Stone & Thomas
department store chain used it as a warehouse
 for many years. Today the building is home
to Watts Brothers Moving and Storage.


Note:  This Article and picture appeared in the Herald-Dispatch Newspaper on May 31, 2022..


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