Watches, engagement rings, jewelry - for more than one hundred and thirty years, people have been visiting this building in search of the perfect engagement ring of special gift for loved ones. The worn hardwood floors and the wooden display cases look the same today as they did before the turn of the century. Most stores experience frequent renovations in response to changing fashions and retail demands, but Morris Jewelry has remained virtually untouched. Walking into this shop is like walking into history.
The Building was constructed circa 1850. Hand hewn floor joists and limestone foundation blocks without mortar indicate this antebellum construction date. The first recorded business on the ground floor was the Bewley & Kemble Hardware store. From 1881 to the present, it has been a jewelry store - first Maier Jewelry and since 1910, Morris Jewelry. Morris Jewelry is believed to be one of the oldest continuously run businesses in Bowling Green.
The upper two floors have served as office space for insurance businesses and a newspaper printing office, as meeting halls for Masonic clubs and as a residential space. Recent owners have continued to enjoy living on the square above their business, just as Mr. Morris did in the mid twentieth-century.
The Sanborn Fire
Insurance maps from 1886 and 1891 indicate a "colored bridge" was located on the second and third floors of the Morris Jewelry building. This lodge may have been the Prince Hall branch of the Free & Accepted Masons.
In later years, a Shriner emblem was installed on the tile landing at the base of the stairs - it is believed that this was installed by Dr. Sam Paris, an eye doctor who was an influential member of the Shriners. It is said that Dr. Paris provided eye glasses and services to children whose parents were of limited means. This was a convenient place for the Shriners to meet because eye glasses were sold in the jewelry store.
In the 1950s and 1960s when Bowling Green was a "dry" city, one of the previous owners hosted a "key club" - members of the Elks Club would gather in the rear of the building for drinks before going to the nearby Elks lodge for meetings.
Recent owners have paid great attention to the history of this building by replicating an earlier Morris Jewelry sign and preserving the character and charm of the oldest jewelry store in Bowling Green.