Antique shop’s heritage a reminder of Jo Daviess County village’s bustling past

HANOVER, Ill. — A century after her great-grandfather launched a hardware business in a Hanover storefront, Kathy Gable returned the building into her family’s hands.

“It’s been such a focal point for generations for our family,” said the 54-year-old Hanover native.

Kathy’s family, the Sullivans, operated a hardware store for about seven decades in the building at 114 Jefferson St. Kathy launched an antique store in the building in 2015 and purchased the building with her father, Bob Gable, in 2017.

“The storefront was open, and the store had been in our family for so many years,” she said. “I take great pride that there is another Sullivan business in that building.”

The antique store and its more-than-a-century-old home stand as a reminder of Hanover’s past. The Jo Daviess County village thrived for decades, thanks to a valve factory in town and the massive Savanna Army Depot located south of Hanover.

“I was born in Hanover in 1947,” said Kathy’s aunt Nancy Sullivan Miller. “At one time in Hanover, there were five grocery stores, two clothing stores, two car dealerships and a cobbler. It was a great place to grow up.”

Sullivan’s Hardware catered to the bustling community.

“You could get anything in that hardware store,” Bob said. “As small as it was, it was packed.”

Businesses located at 114 Jefferson St. have catered to Hanover residents for more than 150 years.

The Moore and Co. general store operated on the site in the 1860s. That store became Jeffers, Moore and Co. when George Jeffers joined the firm in August 1866.

Jeffers bought out other interests in the store and became sole proprietor in 1877. He owned and operated the store until 1902, when he sold the business to J.S. Edwards and Albert Anderson. Anderson soon bought out Edwards and operated the store until 1911.

Various businesses operated at the location in the first half of the 1910s, including a millinery store and a telephone switchboard.

The site acquired a degree of permanence in 1917. That’s when Kathy’s great-grandfather William “Kid” Sullivan became postmaster in Hanover. He purchased the building that year and began selling hardware.

It was in 1945 that Kathy’s grandfather — and Bob’s father-in-law — Roger Sullivan returned to his native Hanover and took over the family hardware store from his father, Kid Sullivan, and his uncle Jerry Sullivan.

“Roger was a real go-getter. You couldn’t slow him down,” Bob said.

Kathy said her grandfather sold everything from mattresses to nails. The store had washing machines, dryers and refrigerators downstairs.

“People could order their bicycles here,” Kathy said.

Roger Sullivan operated the store until his sudden death in the mid-1960s.

“I spent my childhood working in that hardware store,” said Nancy, Roger Sullivan’s daughter. “It’s just so much a part of the family.”

Nancy recalls accompanying her dad to deliver tanks of propane gas to Hanover residents, calling Dubuque to order supplies and taking inventory of stock.

“Taking inventory was a nightmare because (the store) was jam-packed,” she said.

A cousin, Tommy Sheridan, took over the store after Roger Sullivan’s death and operated it into the mid-1990s.

Kathy doesn’t sell hardware — unless it’s vintage. Her antique store features an assortment of items, including furniture, California pottery, vinyl records and vintage tools.

Kathy acquires antiques for her store in a variety of ways, including from family members.

“Not only do I have a large family, but they are very involved in my business,” she said. “I receive antiques from family members, and I go to estate sales.”

Kathy also operates a laundromat in the building’s adjacent annex.

Never closing, the laundromat provided a cushion when COVID-19 restrictions forced Kathy to shutter the shop last year.

“The laundromat paid the mortgage,” she said. “COVID was tragic. I had to shut the store immediately and it has been a very quiet year. I did start selling stuff on Etsy.”

Business is picking up in recent weeks.

“I’ve just started opening again on the weekend and Friday nights,” Kathy said.

“I remember when my cousin Tommy Sheridan owned it,” Kathy said. “We would get everything here.”

Kathy previously worked for Wilson Sporting Goods in Chicago. She was transferred to San Diego and lived in California for eight years, then returned to Hanover in May 2015. It was in 2015 that she rented the building at 114 Jefferson St. from its then-owner, David Farrey. She and her father purchased the building two years later.

“It was important to Kathy,” Bob said. “She took the steps to do it because of her mother.”

Kathy’s mom and Bob’s wife, Susan (Sullivan) Gable, died at the age of 56 in 2002.

“My mom passed away young, so this store is a tribute to her,” Kathy said. “The store is back where it belongs.”