Letter to the Editor

More on buildings

Thursday, March 18, 2004

Dear Editor,

I'd like to share some thoughts on your front page article "Making Room," about the demolition of buildings in Indianola. The story was short and lacking in detail. Ms. Discoe's interview with Cliff Lord was wonderful. The man is a wealth of information. He's lived in this town all his life, active in community and business affairs. He's a good man to ask. However, I am sorry she did not go farther to tell the history of these buildings.

So many times when a newspaper article is written, it is cut out, pasted in a book, and referred to almost as "Gospel" -- it says so right here, sort of thing.

Had others been included in her research, she might have written a more complete story.

It is not rumor, but fact that the old bank building was a two-story structure. Anyone who had looked across the street north from Lord's store could see the scars of that old building on the wall of the Masonic Hall.

A neat case found in the District Court records a lawsuit filed by Sibbett and Crabtree, brickmakers of Indianola, who had been commissioned by an M. Leach and J.W. Dolan to make 126,000 bricks. Leach and Dolan had paid only $200 of the $1,002 charged them. This was in the fall and winter of 1886. The building was destroyed by fire in 1900.

Had more research been done, we'd have learned of Dr. Mackecknie, who came to Indianola in 1899 and rented an office on the second floor of the bank.

After the fire and (the) building (was) rebuilt, his office was in the west end. A photo taken in 1908 shows his car parked on the south side. Dr. Mackecknie saved the Masons from ruin by paying off their debts in the 1930s with the stipulation that the lower floor be set aside for the Federated Women's Club on the east and the Indianola Library on the south. The Eastern Star became the Roberta Chapter in honor of his daughter.

Then there's the story of Deffer's store, which took in all of the first floor "L" of the Masonic Hall ... this a mainstay in the community for more than 20 years.

Beside this, Mr. Deffer owned the two buildings west (today they appear as one big building, but are two separate). The first was what was called the "Cream Station" where farmers brought their cream and eggs for sale. The second nearest the alley was a warehouse. These were sold during the Depression. Mr. and Mrs. Spaulding moved into them and turned them, respectively, into a grocery store and cafe. Zolona Chinn spoke often of Mrs. Spaulding and her cafe. "I worked for a dollar a day," she'd say. "You don't believe that, but I did."

There is so much to write about, so many businesses and people and stories. Had another person, or several people been asked, in addition to Mr. Lord, we'd have learned about the barbershop of George Cramer and his son, Cecil, who moved into the bank when it closed in 1931. You could get a shave and a hot bath. At one time, there was a one-lane bowling alley located in the basement. Helen Helm and her husband, John, were dating at the time.

"He couldn't beat me," she said with a laugh. A Greek cafe was located in one of the west buildings. There are stories of City Liquor, Allen's Drug, Miller's Grocery, the newspaper office. Everyone's got a story.

And, nothing was said of the Indianola Economic Development Corp., which bought the west buildings and the Masonic Hall, and tried to revive an interest in this corner of the CBIT (Community Builder's Information and Technology) Center, and Indian Ola's Trading Post.

It's best to talk of these things while the buildings are still standing, as it gives a feeling of depth and understanding. It's difficult to tell a story and describe something when nothing's there to help visualize. Pictures are wonderful. A few historic photos would have been nice, to see the buildings when they are kept up.

Sorry to see the buildings go? You bet! Mary Berg Bears wrote in and told of her father, who worked at the Post Office (in the old bank). She said she would miss "these old friends." I feel the same as she ... old friends, indeed ... the very heart of Indianola. They are a sad reminder of what was ... once.

Aesthetics -- the study of beauty. I am anxious to see what Indianola will replace these building with ... a new firebarn/station, right on the highway. Will it fit? Will it tie in ... new with the old? The buildings torn down are unique,. Will passersby be awe-struck and admire, or will they look with disdain, and compare with what was? Is anything better than nothing?

Thank you.


James J. Sughroue


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