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  Mount Ayr Record-News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
Thursday, June 25, 2015, Page 8

By Mike Avitt

I scanned this picture from page 70 of the Mount Ayr centennial book. It's okay, the book's not copyrighted. There is only one paragraph about this photo in the book so I'll share some information I have.

The Mount Ayr centennial book (1975) says M. W. Snethen can be seen with his dray wagon in the lower left of the picture. He seems to be hauling lumber. In the top center we see the Christian Church was sold to the Catholics in 1913. At upper left is seen the word "NEWS" which was part of the sign on the old Mount Ayr Twice-A-Week News building (now Lefty's Club Tavern). Between Lefty's and the Christian Church is a very large frame building. That structure was many things including a sales pavilion and a livery barn. In 1935, Guy McCullough began to develop this half-block and today we know that building as McCullough apartments. The building is still standing.

Over on the right we see the rear portion of the Mount Ayr Opera House. It was located at 104 E. Monroe but this was not its original location. After it was moved to this site about 1890, the rear addition was built on and we see that in the picture.

The George Slentz building, lower left, was built in 1897 by William Timby after the original brick was lost in a fire earlier in 1897. George Slentz sold clothing and dry goods and had previously been located on the southeast corner of the square. George died in 1920 and his wife, Hannah (Ogden) Slentz, ran the store for a couple of more years with the help of her brothers. E. E. Krouch was the next to occupy this building in November 1923. Roy Swartz joined Krouch Hardware in February 1925. I lose track of the occupants until December 1937 when Prentis Hatchery moved in. Todd Hardware then shared the store building with Prentis beginning in 1939.

In 1944, Lee Timby, son of William Timby, sold the structure to John Freeland who completely reconstructed the interior and opened Freeland's Department Store in 1948. Freeland's sold to Woodward's in 1949 and Woodward's sold to the C. R. Anthony Co. in 1956.

Anthony's closed in 1980 and the building spent many years unoccupied until Bib Combs built a bowling alley there in 1994. Bib's Lanes became Majestic Lanes in 2001 and Lucky Lanes after that.

Simpson's Big Department Store (left) and Ezra McMaster's Office (right)

The Simpson building, across the alley to the south, was built in 1899 by W. A. Simpson. He had previously been located in the building occupied today by Princess Theater. Both W. A. Simpson and George Slentz were in business for over forty years. Simpson sold dry goods but died in 1931. His estate immediately sold the building to former Ringgold County Sheriff Marion Stephens who opened a restaurant, Stephens Cafe, on December 23, 1931. Stephens sold the restaurant to M. L. Spurrier and the Midway Cafe was born August 11, 1933. Mick Snedeker bought the cafe and opened Mick's Cafe June 19, 1945. Veronica Pine and Kenneth Markley bought the restaurant in October 1945 and sold it to Glen Hutchinson and Leo Hacker in August 1946. The last occupant I know of was May 1, 1951 when Lucille Trower opened a restaurant there.

By the early 70s the building was completely dilapidated and was torn down about 1976. The empty lot to the south of the Simpson building, has always been an empty lot to the best of my knowledge.

In this postcard, the 2nd building from the left was occupied by J. A. Williams Co., and the G. A. Slentz store, the 3rd building from the left.

Photographs courtesy of Mount Ayr Record-News, Mount Ayr Depot Musuem, Mike Avitt & Sharon R. Becker as noted

Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, October of 2015

Mount Ayr Record-News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
Thursday, January 21, 2016, Page 4

By Mike Avitt

This weeks's photo was copied from a postcard and comes courtesy of Jamie Miller. I put the picture at 1948 or 1949 because the lamp post was replaced in late 1949. But, for the sake of this article, we're going to call the date the autumn of 1948.

The corner building was built in 1892 as Citizens Bank and became Iowa State Bank in 1904. In the autumn of 1948, Clyde Lesan Co. occupied this structure, Clyde Lesan having bought the business from Frank Sheldon on May of 1938.

William Havely French began work in the real estate and insurance firm of Clyde Lesan in the fall of 1948 and he's still there! Mr. French has worked under four different names: Clyde Lesan Co. (1938 - 1960), W. B. Cunning & Co. (1960 - 1973) French & Schardein (1973 - ?), and William H. French Agency (? - 2016). I believe 67 years in the same building is a record for Ringgold County. Please correct me if I'm wrong. I checked Charlie Reidlinger's record at his his store in Redding and came up with 57 years.

Moving south in the photo we come to McNeiley's Drug Store. Finis Edward McNeiley bought the Lawhead Drug Company in 1941 and sold it to Verd and Corrine Bailey in 1974. Corrine was McNeiley's niece.

South of that was Iowa Southern Utilities. ISU moved to this location in the early 1920s and stayed until 1976 when they moved to their new building at 105 East Adams. The neon sign, just visible behind McNeiley's sign, was new in 1926.

To the south of ISU in 1948 was Lion Auto Supply. Leslie and Mary Jame Park came here from Lamoni in the late 1930s and were associated with the store by 1941. The Parks closed out their store in 1971. You may remember they owned the house at 102 Shelway Drive before Jack and Helen Terry bought it. Mary Jane gave piano lessons and recitals in this home.

The next building south was Freeland's Department Store. This was the third and last location for Freeland's which got its start in 1891 in the Timby building on the northeast corner of the square. In this location, John Freeland, son of founder Montgomery E. Freeland, sold appliances as well as clothing. Rural Ringgold County got electricity beginning in 1945 which created a demand for electrical appliances.

Freeland's sold out to Woodward's in 1949, ending a 58-year history, and today the building is Lucky Lanes. This building was built in 1897 by William Timby and replaced a two-story, brick building Timby built in 1891 which burned in 1897.

Across the alley south of Freeland's was the Midway Cafe. Leon Hacker and Glen Hutchinson were the owners in 1948. Previous owners were Vernica Pine, Kenneth Markley, M. L. Spurrier, Mick Snedeker, and Marion Stephens. The last advertisement I see for this restuarant is in 1951 when Lucille Trower had it.

Photograph courtesy of Mount Ayr Record-News
Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, May of 2016


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