Hefner's Art Gallery


The Metz Building showing Forslund furniture to the left and Hefner's to the right.


As a kid, I thought of Hefner's  as a home furnishings store; lamps, occasional tables, rugs as well as pictures. I thought the middle room was for the paintings.  But these photos from the 1930's don't seem to support that.  So either my memory is faulty (it was an amazing place), or I mis-interpreted a few tables and lamps or the store changed maybe after the depression or when Mr. Hall took over.  . Mr. Hefner was a very old man who had little patience with a little girl. But the store was full of fascinating things. And now that I see these photos, he must have been in terror of a little kid.  There were heavy metal etched swans or peacocks on the floor. Strings of etched brass bells hung down along a big window that bordered the door. And I HAD to ring each bell.  My mother would chase me away so  I had to go to the back room and play with the old adding machine with a big handle that went Ka-Chung. I got scolded but I couldn't resist. So my mother would drag me out, disgusted. See also Down Rich

In the second picture dated August 1930, Mr. Hefner is wearing the bow tie. The other man is his wife's nephew, Lloyd Hall.


1903 City Directory - Hefner, Jacob  frame maker Haystek and Canfield co. h241 Lafayette

Haystek and Canfield had two wholesale stores and one retail store. One of the wholesale stores was located on Ionia NW not far from 52 Market.  One was then  near where Perception is today at 7  Ionia Ave SW.

Chas E Norton Post Folder

Thursday January 16, 1958  Grand Rapids Press  

Jacob A Hefner, aged 86, of 1759 Silver, SE, passed away Wednesday afternoon after a lingering illness.  He is survived by a daughter, Miss Frances M. Hefner of Grand Rapids; several nieces and nephew. Requiem Mass will be sung at St. Andrew's Church at 10 o'clock Saturday morning.  Internment Woodlawn Cemetery.  Relatives and friends will recite the Rosary at 8 pm Friday at O'Brien's Colonial Home, where Mr. Hefner reposes. 


                                 Joseph GR Herald  Tues 28 Sep 1937 pg 10  



For genealogical information on the Hefner family, see http://wc.rootsweb.com/cgi-bin/igm.cgi?db=grcity

My dad showed his artistic talent very early although I am sure he wasn't encouraged by his dad who was a pig farmer.  My dad only went through the eighth grade in a one-room country school.  Before WWII he worked for VanValkenberg and Stehouwer butcher shops near Creston High School.  After being seriously wounded during WWII, the army discovered his artistic bent during rehab and encouraged him to pursue that interest for employment.  Mr. Hefner pledged to hire a vet and he hired my dad.  For more information on my dad, Dad 

My dad repaired the gold leaf on statues in the Catholic churches, schools and convents. . It used to amuse me as a child when my dad would sit primly listening to the Dutch Reformed sermons condemning the idolatry of Catholics who prayed to the statues that my dad repaired.

My dad, although wounded by a German soldier, did not object to working for the son of German immigrants and a Catholic, at that. Dutch Reform churches are very plain. When I was about 5-years-old my dad took me with him to St Alphonsus. I had never seen such a beautiful place. And it had an echo! How I ran up and down the aisles enjoying the sound and the beauty  until I broke a statue of a lamb. My dad never took me to work with him again.

My dad gave a painting to his church of little children gathered around Jesus. They did not approve of such idolatry. They reluctantly agreed to hang it in an obscure location because it was showed love for children.

Later on, my dad repaired the icons for Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church and the Torah for Temple Emmanuel.
He honored everyone.


For genealogical information on my dad, see http://wc.rootsweb.com/cgi-bin/igm.cgi?db=babsmark

My dad working in the basement of the store.

My dad supported local artists. He thought it was important to support local artists and disagreed with those who thought he should concentrate on famous outsiders as examples for the "lowly, ignorant" people of Grand Rapids.   "Expert - an average person from out-of-town".

For more information on my Dad.

 I don't remember my dad expanding to 112 which would have been in the former drug store/gift shop on the opposite side of the lobby. But when urban renewal was the rage and so many tenants were being forced out of the Metz Building, my dad pretty much had the whole building.  He and an oral denture man were the last occupants.  They were finally forced out and the building was torn down - for a parking lot - for about 8 cars






The back of the Metz Bldg.  The door on the left leads to the back hall  where the barber shop was located..  The door on the right enters the back work room of Hefner's.

The 1913 Sanborn Fire map, although very blurry, shows the structure of the new Metz bldg.

The Metz Bldg was the first building built just for doctor's offices. In the middle was a wide opening with an entrance to Hefner's on the left. Then double glass doors opening into a central  lobby with marble walls and floors. There was a wooden telephone booth just to the left. In the middle on the right were double doors leading to a drug store and a gift shop. At the back on the right were marble stairs, a brass elevator in the center and a narrow door leading to a hallway past a barbershop and then outdoors. Over the lobby was an opening all the up to a skylight.  I loved standing at the ornate iron railing looking up and down.

On the outside was Forslund's to the east and Lindy's Opitcals to the west where I always got my glasses. In the rear of my dad's store was a stairway to the basement shared with Forslund's. We could hear the brothers arguing. One of them, don't remember which one, wanted to run the whole show. There was Blake, John and somebody else.




Pictures of the Metz Bldg taken by me in 1970 and 1971 as I explored.


The back of the Metz Bldg




Elevator wheels     from the roof looking east              looking north



My dad added antiques and  moved to an old water front saloon built before the East course of the river was filled in.  The saloon had had an upstairs brothel.

It was next door to the Leonard Building, near the Helmer Bldg and the Judson Grocery Wholesale and across the street from Central Michigan Paper which was concave along the railroad tracks..   I think the little triangle of land at the corner was Lena Lou Liquor.  Almost all of it is gone now except Judson's is now Bob's restaurant.

  The 1913 Sanborn shows the outline of this building. .  The Leonard Building stills exists although it was gutted and has a modern face with bands of green windows.



But when Urban Renewal struck again, he gave up entirely on downtown.


        Just before this building was torn down for the renovation of the Helder and Leoanrd Buildings into bands of green stripe windows. Right next to Hefner's would be a TGIF Bar. Bars, bars, bars that's all there seems to be downtown today. Booze is very important to the current generation.

52 Market St NW    Torn down for a parking lot. 

He moved the store to 1440 Wealthy St SE next to Windmill Floral.  Hefner's closed when my dad died in 1991.  The rightful successor should have been Kim Smith who had worked for my dad. Kim owns Perception, 7  Ionia Ave SW, 616-451-2393, email at  Ionia7@aol.com. He carries work by both Armand Merizon and Reynold Weidenaar.  The web page that includes Perception: Antiques, Art, Collectibles & More - GoAntiques 

 Reynold Weidenaar and Frank Vander Mark at 1440 Wealthy St SE

This was the highlight of my dad's career although he, personally, received not one cent.


    Grand Rapids Press 25 Apr 1985  Davis Tech

From article Downtown

From Heading History and the City of GrandRapids

From web site:  MyCityofGrandRapids.info

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Last modified: 08/05/11