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McAtee building thriving after 108 years

June 23, 2019 | 3:20 am

Updated June 22, 2019 | 7:17 am

The McAtee, Lyddane, and Ray building at the northwest corner of Second and Daviess Streets has been an Owensboro landmark since 1911. | Photo by AP Imagery

The McAtee, Lyddane, and Ray building at the northwest corner of Second and Daviess Streets has been an Owensboro landmark since 1911. The firm was formed in 1899 when Tyler W. McAtee, John A. Lyddane and Lee D. Ray began selling dry goods in the Miller Building on Second Street.

According to Harry D. Ray, later president of the firm, McAtee and Ray, brothers-in-law from Lebanon, Kentucky, “chose Owensboro as the home for that store because they had a vision of Owensboro’s future growth and development into one of Kentucky’s finest cities.”

The vision the firm cast made McAtee, Lyddane and Ray one of the “finest of its kind in Kentucky.”

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After taking over the entire Miller building and the top floor of the adjacent building in 1907, the firm quickly outgrew the space. By 1911 they were in desperate need of more space and modern facilities. In response, McAtee, Lyddane and Ray erected and occupied a new state-of-the-art building at the northwest corner of Second and Daviess.

The modernization of the building on “Owensboro’s favorite corner,” as it was described on its 50th anniversary, would be a process that would occur over the next 108 years.

In 1923, the basement store was expanded, doubling floor space for the department store. In 1938, the building underwent remodeling that modernized the interior. By 1948, all five selling floors were air-conditioned, allowing customers to shop in comfort.

For 56 years, McAtee’s operated under family management, but on March 3, 1955, McAtee’s became part of the group of department stores owned and operated by Aiden’s Incorporated out of Chicago. Extensive remodeling occurred later in August that included the main floor, fashion floor and basement store, which would become the Thrift Store in August if 1956.

McAtee’s continued to be one of Owensboro’s premier shopping centers until it closed in December 1977 as retail shopping moved out to Frederica Street. In 1978, Linda and Frank Hayden bought the building where Linda operated Mrs. Frank’s Bath & Kitchens until 1997.

The Career Center then occupied the building from 1998 until the summer of 2014. The fate of the McAtee, Lyddane and Ray building seemed uncertain when it went up for sale the summer of that year.

Hope for the historic building came in 2016 when realtor Randy Hayden, the nephew of then-owners Linda and Frank Hayden, embarked on a multi-phase renovation. At this time, the Daviess County Probation Parole office on the fourth floor had been the only tenant of the building since the Career Center left in 2014.
The initial phase of the renovation brought new tenants to McAtee, such as Byron & Barclay and The Sturdy Hinge, breathing new life into the old building. The renovations continued and, in the fall of 2017, California investor Robert Glyer bought the building for $3.5 million to further develop, renovate and restore it.

Since then, a new entrance has been adding to the Daviess Street side of the building, allowing customers to enter into a foyer with elevator access. These recent renovations have attracted numerous new tenants and customers to the McAtee building.

One more recent example is Josh Gann of Thrivent Financial, a tenant of the building since December 2018. Gann had a Bowling Green office and wanted to expand the faith-based holistic financial planning company by opening an office in Owensboro. Gann chose the McAtee building for his Owensboro location because he wanted to be downtown in the midst of Owensboro’s developmental projects.

“We intentionally came downtown — to be where the action was and we felt like the McAtee building was the hottest part of downtown,” Gann said. “We wanted it to be easy for people to find us, to give them an opportunity to see our office and then experience all that downtown and the McAtee building has to offer.”

The new life that these renovations and new tenants have brought to the McAtee, Lyddane and Ray building is palpable, especially to Probation Parole, once the building’s only tenant.

District Supervisor Keith Decker remembers a time when the McAtee building felt stale and empty, but Decker assures this is no longer the case.

“It’s definitely livelier,” Decker said. “I’ve noticed the foot traffic from the general public has greatly improved. It’s really picking up because of all of the renovations, which is outstanding.”

Other new additions to the McAtee building include Legendary Tattoo Company, Woodmen Life, True North Treatment and J&R Construction Services.

After 108 years, Owensboro’s favorite corner is full of life once again.

June 23, 2019 | 3:20 am

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