Alton A. Deming started a lumber business in a small building on McKinley Avenue around 1898. He came to Erie, PA from Warren County, PA about ten years prior, where he had learned the carpentry business. Alton learned about the retail trade from his uncle, W. H. Deming, who had operated a planing mill and lumber business at 11th and French St. in Erie for many years.
Alton's business was very prosperous, and he soon outgrew his original building. When he expanded in 1912, "he made plans for a large two-story warehouse and millworking plant and has erected since a brick, concrete and steel structure building with a floor space of thirty thousand square feet, and having the unloading capacity of seven carloads of lumber at one time...Traveling lumber salesmen state that they have never seen its equal and are astonished at the great progressive lead taken by Mr. Deming in housing all his stock."
"He has a large enclosed room for the storage of doors, windows, stair work, porch columns, etc., of all sizes and descriptions. On the large open platform on the second floor he has a large stock of yellow pine and oak finish lumber for immediate delivery, such as jamb stock, casings, base, stair treads, stair risers, stair stringers, wainscoting, ceiling, etc." -Erie Magazine, January 1914. George W. Bauschard was the superintendent of Deming Lumber.
Most of the building pictured above still stands, including the original structure , which anchors the southern end of the warehouse on McKinley Ave. The eastern part of the building meets the overhead bridge on Buffalo Road. You can see the buildings from the Eastside Bayfront Connector.
Alton Deming and his wife Flora lived on the northwest corner of 21st and East Avenue and could see the lumber business from their front porch. Their house still stands at 960 East 21st St.. Alton Deming died on June 11, 1920 and was buried in the Erie Cemetery.
Enjoy more historic facts and photos of Erie, Pennsylvania at: Old Time Erie