The old Montgomery Ward building sits vacant and forlorn on the corner of Chaparral and Peoples. It is a building with a history. I suspect that it is more than 130 years old. The building was approaching 50 years old when it was rehabbed in 1933 to house Montgomery Ward’s new store in Corpus Christi.

We know something of this old building because it was linked to two Corpus Christi department stores, Lichtenstein’s and Gugenheim & Cohn. Lichtenstein’s opened in Corpus Christi in a wood-frame building at Chaparral and Peoples in 1874. In 1889, Morris Lichtenstein leased the more substantial William Uehlinger building which sat diagonally across the intersection at the northwestern end of the 500 block. Lichtenstein’s occupied that building for two decades until 1911, when it moved into a new store a block south at Chaparral at Schatzel.

After Lichtenstein’s moved out, the old Uehlinger building was next home of the Gugenheim & Cohn Department Store, which moved a block north from its location in the 400 block.

In 1933, Montgomery Ward announced that bids were being sought to construct a new department store at the corner of Chaparral and Peoples. But I don’t believe that it was a new building, since it appears they simply renovated the old Uehlinger structure. A “Doc” McGregor photo shows the work in progress.

Montgomery Ward operated a retail store at the Chaparral and Peoples location for almost three decades before it was converted into a catalog store in 1960 then closed a few…