Schafer Leather has been a family-owned business in Marietta since 1867 and has survived all of the floods that affected the downtown area during that time. Rob Schafer is the current owner and recently spoke about how the 1913 flood affected his great-grandfather's store.
Question: How long has your business been open?
Answer: This store has been owned and operated by a Schafer in Marietta since 1867. It's been located at 146 Front St. in downtown Marietta the entire time of operation and has been through multiple floods.
CHRISTIAN HUDSPETH The Marietta Times
Rob Schafer shows the water levels during the 1913 flood recently at Schafer Leather, 146 Front St. The water was almost completely up the stairs to the second floor during that flood.
Q: Who was running the business when the flood occurred?
A: My great-grandfather Lewis Schafer was the owner of Schafer Leather Store during the 1913 flood.
Q: How much damage did the flood do to the business?
A: There was a good bit of water in the building but the damage was fairly minimal given the circumstances. They were able to remove most of the products, so they didn't lose a huge profit in lost goods. The water was three feet up on our second floor and we have 12-foot ceilings in here. These buildings were built to take water though, it has a 6-inch flood taper from the front to the back so water and mud run out the front door. It makes it easier much easier to clean up after a flood. In 1884 a flood destroyed the first building we had and so this store was completely rebuilt to withstand floods.
Q: How long did it take to get back to business?
A: I'm not sure exactly how long it took them to reopen. It should have been relatively quickly. They would have just had to let the water recede and then clean out the store. My best guess is that they were back in business about two weeks later.
Q:What did the cleanup process involve?
A: The biggest thing to realize is that they didn't have pressurized water. They would have had to use mops, buckets and brooms. We have things that we have today to make cleanup easier. It was just a lot of elbow grease back then.
Q: Were there concerns about rebuilding in case of another flood of this magnitude?
A: You always have to worry about a flood in the back of your mind at that location. After the 1913 flood, there was one in 1937 and my dad remembers sitting on the second floor with his feet in the water on the stairwell. He would have been 7 years old at the time. Despite it always being a concern, you don't want to leave the hub of commerce in the town because it might happen.
Q: Did you hear of any other businesses that weren't reopened after the flood?
A: There were businesses that didn't open, although I couldn't give you specific names. That happens everytime there is a flood that hits downtown like this, including 2004. If a business is riding the fence when something like this happens it pretty much pushes them over the limit.
Q: How have recent floods affected your business and is that a concern operating downtown?
A: It's just something we deal with, because it's a waste of time to worry about it. The best thing we can do is to have a plan in the back of our mind in case something does happen. It's still better than an earthquake or tornado because you have time to move before a flood. It's a more manageable disaster than something with no warning.
Christian Hudspeth conducted this interview.