|The Hanscom Hall used to be a two story building until a fire destroyed the upper story. Fire sometime around 1912.[Photo courtesy of Jerry McGrew]|
|When Hanscom Hall had seen better days and before it's restoration. [Talent Historical Society photo]|
by Jan Wright
Located at 201 Talent Avenue, Hanscom Hall was built in 1906 on property owned by Daniel and Charles Hanscom. The other buildings built that same year in Talent, a hotel, meat market, opera house, and livery stable are all gone but Hanscom Hall remains. It has retained the name of the original owners though it has changed hands many times and been used in many different ways including a confectionary and ice cream parlor, a meeting place for Methodists and the Odd Fellows, a restaurant, a second hand store, a grocery, an antique shop, a pottery studio, and today as The Total Picture.
Perhaps best remembered as the Talent Cafe, it was operated by Lilah Parker and Marie Long after WWII through the early 1970s. They offered simple but hardy meals in their well-known restaurant. People from all over the valley, notably the Shakespearean actors from Ashland, came to eat there. Customers had to eat everything off their plates to earn desert.
In 1996 when the building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places, it was not known that the the original construction was two-stories high. The photograph featured with this article proves that the structure had an upper floor and a staircase on the North side. The fire so damaged the top story that it has been a 1 ½ story building ever since.
When the picture was taken, the building belonged to the Wolters family and it was one of their descendants (Jerry McGrew) who had the photograph and shared it with the author. Jerry did not have any idea that the picture was so historically valuable or that it was even taken in Talent. The photograph serves as a reminder to save and share old photos with the Talent Historical Society – your building or home could be featured next in this series of articles !