In 1895, a young man purchased a piece of property located at 24 Mill Street for $300 to open up a new business. Earlier this month, the same building opened its doors as Mill Street Tavern. There have been several changes made on the property in the 124 years between those two dates, but for almost a century, the building was home to the Berryhill Sheet Metal Shop.
The young man was named Frank Berryhill and his granddaughter Vicky Rogers, Tulsa, provided some of the building’s history. She said that to truly understand the history of the Berryhill family and the Berryhill Sheet Metal Shop, one must go all the way back to the Civil War.
“Frank’s father was Captain Mathew Aaron Berryhill, a Union soldier,” Rogers said. “He was wounded in the Battle of Chickamauga in Tennessee, and he was laying in a barn when a Confederate Soldier walked into the building. He asked “are you going to kill me,’ and the doctor told him ‘no, I’m a doctor. I came here to save lives, not kill people.”
Rogers said because of this act of kindness, Mathew lived on and his son Frank, a carpenter by trade, was passing through Ardmore in 1891, on his way to a job at Ft. Sill, but he ended up settling down in Ardmore to open the Berryhill Sheet Metal Shop.
Rogers said she was unsure when the current building was built, but according to the property’s current owner, Tim Longest, all the records he’s seen date the building to 1912.
“They were called tinners,” Longest said. “Back in the day if you needed a cistern for rain water, they would build the big tanks here. They also made gutters. Once central heat and air come out they would make the ductwork.”
Rogers said Frank’s son, Tim Berryhill, took over the business from his father. Tim, a World War II Veteran, and soldier on Normandy’s Omaha Beach on June 9, 1944, as a member of the second wave of the D-Day Invasions. After returning home from the war, he operated the Berryhill Sheet Metal Shop. It closed its doors for the last time when he retired in 1985.
Rogers said the entire Berryhill family is thrilled to see the building restored and once again be serving the Ardmore community. In a letter outlining the history of the Berryhill family, she offered a suggestion to those dining at Mill Street Tavern.
“If you visit what is now called the Mill Street Tavern, lift your glass and make a toast to a family and building that has help(ed) build Ardmore into the patriotic, caring city that it is today. Its history is still being recorded and you will be a part of it.”