The R.W. Harris Store is a large, two story brick building located on Winfield’s main street down by the railroad tracks. The building has it’s original copper framed windows, and the inside of the building is a virtual museum of the late 19th and early 20th century. Over twenty oak and glass showcases, a 1901 Bolt and Nut Bin, a 1918 eight drawer cash register, two 19th century glass and mahogany suit display cases, a one of a kind glass and mahogany hat display, thread cases, lace cases, nail scales, and pot belly stove. The warehouse is still used and has items from the late 19th century and early 20th century. Some of the items that you will find in the warehouse are old buggy spokes, an old wagon axle, wooden farm implements, tools, and gristmill. The cornerstone of the warehouse is a safe, stolen from the Harris building and recovered pre-1911.
The store building is a typical example of a large department store of days gone by. Begun on this site in 1885 by the Robertson family, prior to the purchase by R.W. Harris, Sr. in 1921. Raymond Harris Sr. began working for R.C. Robertson and Company in 1901 at the age of 25. When this store began it set as a wooden building in downtown Winfield. In 1911, a transit came into town and claimed to be a brick mason; he talked Raymond Harris into constructing a new brick building. Logs were put under the old wooden building and it was rolled out of the way to make room for the new one. The business never missed a day’s work. The warehouse was constructed out of materials from the wooden building. This building was constructed alongside the railroad to serve as warehouse for the store. Some of the items that originally sat in the warehouse were wagons, hay, fertilizer, pipe, tin roofing, and terracotta drain pipe. These items were stored until sold from the Harris Store. This is the site of the first downtown building constructed prior to the Kansas City, Memphis and Birmingham Railroad that came across the old domain of greater Marion County in 1887.
The store and warehouse have become a tribute to Winfield’s past. 2010 marks the 125th year of operation of this old store in historic downtown Winfield. These walls can’t talk, but when you come in you will feel like you have traveled back in time to a simpler way of life.The R.W. Harris Store is historically significant for it’s long association with providing for the community with its many needs. The R.W. Harris Store is a general merchandise store founded in 1885 and the present building was built by Raymond Harris Sr. He turned it into one of the more thriving businesses in a three county area (Marion, Fayette, and Walker). R.W. Harris also operated a cotton gin and bought and sold cotton when cotton was king of southern agriculture. Raymond Jr. took over the store in 1936. Raymond III took over operations in 1975.
The Harris Store is located just west of the original public road cut in Alabama in 1823, “The Byler Road”. This road connected antebellum Huntsville and Tuscaloosa. Parts of the historic highway are still in use on U.S. Highways 118 and 43, both of which intersect in Winfield near the Harris Store. During the 1920’s and 1930’s, customers flocked to the store in such numbers it took (8) clerks (all men) to serve them. Three women employees were kept busy keeping books and tending to other matters. Women’s hats were made from scratch on site. Four of the clerks were brothers, one of whom, Claude Cadell, worked at the store until he died at the age of 84, with 62 years of service. The traffic wore out the wooden floor of the new brick building and a concrete floor was poured. The filler for the base of the floor was burned coal clinkers from the locomotives on the Frisco Railroad.