Saturday, October 06, 2012

Cirque du Chariton

This poor old photograph --- faded, scratched and in shreds --- is the only known image of a circus parade on the Chariton square. If it looks a little cartoonish, that's because I pushed it as far as I could in order to make some of the details more visible. It's part of the historical society collection and we don't know how it got to be in such bad condition, but that happened long ago.

You can see the elephants marching north in tandem in front of the Mallory Opera Block as well as all of the buildings that once formed the north half of the west side of the square. With the exception of the Manning & Penick Building, at far left and which still stands (although the facade has been altered), all the others burned in the great fire of January 1904 and were replaced during that same year by the four buildings now in place. This photo was taken about 1900, but the exact date isn't known.

The Chariton Bank and a mercantile establishment shared the first floor of Manning & Penick when this photo was taken. The two-story wood frame building with arched cornice just to the north was the home of Lockwood Jewelry. Dr. David Q. Storie's narrow three-story building with cast iron facade is next --- the family drug store was located there. Then came the Opera Block, built during the early 1870s and housing on its ground floor (from left) Deming and Hollinger general merchandise, a business offering groceries and Queensware, Simon Oppenheimer's clothing store and W.M. Kennedy & Co. Dry Groods. The stairway to the second-floor opera hall was located in the middle of the Opera Block.

After the fire, the Lockwoods rebuilt their building in brick, Storie built a new two-story building and the four Opera Blocks were divided between Oppenheimer and Hollinger & Larmer, resulting in two separate two story buildings. All of those buildings remain, as shown in the photograph below.

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