Mills Building (1897)

Paul Elder's office inside the Mills Building in 1897.

Paul Elder’s office inside the Mills Building in 1897.

Throughout the 1890s, William Doxey’s employee Paul Elder watched and learned. By 1897 Elder decided that he had learned enough to strike out on his own. In December he became an independent publisher’s agent, and opened a one-room bookshop on the second floor of the Mills Building. An advertising card from this period offers an ‘installment library,’ where the reader could collect, one book per month, the entire works of Shakespeare or Dickens. More importantly, this room was almost certainly used to cement Elder’s new partnership with Morgan Shepard, and to plan a new store on Post St.

The Mills Building today, at the corner of Montgomery and Bush. The facade and

The Mills Building today, at the corner of Montgomery and Bush. The building survived the 1906 earthquake, but was burned out in the subsequent fire. Later a new interior was built inside the standing shell.

Clearly this was also a room where Elder entertained his customers. Note the bust of Shakespeare and the various artwork on the walls. Note also the interesting chandelier with bare bulbs.

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