Saturday, December 03, 2011

Around the Square: Part 3

This is the tail end of a minor tour of "amenities" around the Chariton square using photos taken to accompany our Main Street Iowa application, which now is complete and will be tidied up, organized, duplicated, colated and bound over the weekend, then delivered to Des Moines on Monday.

18. This suite of four buildings (top) at the north end of the west side of the square represented the latest in commerical design when they were constructed during 1904 after a fire in January of that year wiped out everything north of Penick Building, which had served as a fire wall. The Mallory Opera Block, where the fire started, was the major loss in that blaze. The buildings (from left, Lockwood, Storie, Oppenheimer and Hollinger & Larimer) all were built of a pale brick not used often prior to 1900, but increasingly popular as the century turned. Each differs from the other in design and detail, but they form an obvious unit --- or did until earlier this year when the Storie Building was treated to a coat of bright yellow and red paint.

19. First United Methodist Church, built during 1899/1900 in a triumphal gothic revival style, was and remains Chariton's grandest church building. It replaced an earlier brick church building in the same location. The exterior of the main block of the church has never been altered, although two major additions have been made. An unobtrusive brick educational wing on the site of the former parsonage is located east of the church, but was designed to in no way compete. A far more recent addition to the north, built primarily to resolve accessibility issues, mirrors the 1899/1900 building in both design and material. This building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

20. Pierschbacher Funeral Home. John Pierschbacher, casting about for a new funeral home site, creatively recycled this turn-of-the-20th-century building along Roland Avenue a block north of the square. It was built as a shop for the Schreiber Carriage Manufacturing Co., then as automobiles replaced carriages, became a car dealership. It is notable for its arched-truss roof support system, left intentionally evident in some public areas of the funeral home.

21. The Lucas County Courthouse, built of stone during 1893 in a grand Richardson Romanesque style, continues to function as the heart of both Chariton and Lucas County. It really is a wonderful building, also listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The major exterior loss here is the spire roof that once crowned the clock tower. Although the interior was savagely attacked by pressed-wood paneling and greater-crested ceiling lowerers during the 1970s, nothing precludes restoration other than the need for a great deal of money --- not available in the county budget. The tile floors and woodwork inside are wonderful, however. The bandstand was added to the courthouse lawn in 1999 as a community effort to replace an historic bandstand that had been removed years earlier. It continues to serve as a focal point for the community.

22. Civil War Memorial. Members of Daniel Iseminger Post, Grand Army of the Republic, added this towering monument and an adjacent flag pole to the southeast corner of the courthouse lawn during 1917, marking the 50th-year anniversary of the end of the Civil War two years earlier. The official county flag still flies from that flag pole. Originally, two Civil War-era cannon flanked the memorial --- but vanished, perhaps during the World War II era. No one remembers what became of them, which has caused some interesting goings-one. One theory is that they were buried, so folks have looked. No luck. Another theory is that they were scrapped as part of the World War II effort. Barring something definitive, this remains one of Chariton's mysteries.

23. The County Jail. Built during 1917 southwest of the square and recently vacated by a move to the new Law Enforcement Center, this is the most endangered building right now in the proposed Main Street District. The roof is bad, and county supervisors are unlikely to invest in a replacement unless a creative (and funded) idea for reuse can be found. Barring that, it most likely will be demolished during 2012.

24. Old Betsy. While not a building, this 1883 Silsby steamer has been a resident of the Chariton square district since it was purchased --- in 1883. The pride and joy of the Chariton Volunteer Fire Department, it appears in most parades and at other events and actually has a nationwide following.

25. Lucas County's people --- obviously the most important "amenity" of all. The big news in Lucas County during the last several years has been the arrival of hundreds of immigrants from Ukraine, Belarus and Russia, seeking refuge in the United States so that they can practice their Slavic pentecostal faith freely and in Lucas County, because its landscape reminds them of home. So Lucas Countyans old and new get together now every summer and sit down for a sharared meal during a Ukrainian Festival on the courthouse lawn.

1 comment:

Ken said...

Good luck with the application!