When you go to Independence, you must stop at the Independence General Store where you can get something to eat and drink, and meet some of the local folks. Without a doubt, this is the social center, the hub, of the community.
According to Lueckemeyer’s niece, Lynn Lueckemeyer Hollaway,
her Uncle Walter had his own style and “from the beginning…made the store a social gathering place offering slot machines and bootlegged whiskey. Seats resurrected from old airplanes were around the pot-bellied stove in the center….His hunting dogs wandered in and out of the store along with the customers.”
Lynn Lueckemeyer Hollaway
Now and Then: The false-front store building was photographed shortly before Walter Lueckemeyer replaced it with the present stone façade in 1939.
Most businesses in early Independence were built on blocks that faced the Town Square. This block (Block 2 in the town plan) was originally residential but a commercial use was added in the early 1900s. When Washington County native Walter C. Lueckemeyer bought the property in 1926, it already included a “store building, all improvements, and the fixtures.” In 1939, Lueckemeyer replaced a false-front building with the present stone structure, fashioning the façade after the most famous architectural icon in Texas history—the Alamo.
The store remained a Lueckemeyer family business until 1977 when Melvin and Christine Bentke, also natives of the area, bought the property and expanded the grocery trade. Carrying on the tradition of this family-owned and operated business, Mike and Brenda Bentke Meadows acquired the property in spring 2000. The Meadows added a grill and enlarged the back room to accommodate both local folks and visitors. Everybody is welcome!