Hoke Furniture Company
Like any community, Thurmont has seen businesses come and go: Thurmont Canning. Cannon Shoe. Claire Frock. Who remembers The Hoke Furniture Company? In 1946, after serving a second tour of duty in the US Army, Lloyd Hoke bought at auction a three-story building at Maple Drive and Miller Alley (opposite the current middle school location). Hoke added a steam boiler and dry kiln along with a fire pond, which was a supplemental water source for the town in instances of major fires. When there were no disastrous fires – which was most of the time! – the pond might be used by local kids for fishing or ice skating. The company bought adjacent properties when they became available and eventually expanded all the way to Boundary Avenue. The buildings totaled roughly 65,000 square feet and the business offered jobs to 120 (mostly) Thurmont residents at its busiest.
The company originally was called Hoke Wood Products Company, because the end products mostly were components used by others instead of finished furniture. But, over many years the inventory collection eventually covered everything from baby cribs to tables, clock cases, dining room sets, and bedroom sets, and Mr. Hoke changed the name to reflect the changed orientation of production. In the 1950s and 1960s the trend was toward ornate pieces, and in the 1970s the company added a line aimed at government and hotels. Hoke had showrooms in New York and North Carolina, and the company shipped to Miami, Chicago, New York, and elsewhere.
After 37 years, however, Hoke and his wife, Clara, were ready for retirement; they sold the business in 1983 to a wood products company from Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, the purchase didn’t work out and Hoke bought back the buildings and land in 1985. Tragically, later the same year a catastrophic fire destroyed most of the buildings and the company never came back to “life.”