Saturday, April 14, 2012

A 1931 bird's eye view of Chariton

I've been looking this week at an aerial photograph of Chariton, which probably dates from the spring of 1931, noting what's changed --- and hasn't --- during the last 80 or so years. You can look, too, but will need to right-click and open in a new window. And even then, the detail won't be as precise as it is in the big scan file living on my computer.

The original 8x10-inch photograph is included in a hand-made promotional booklet that can be dated because of a cover letter to somewhere in the neighborhood of April, 1931. The purpose of the bookllet was to promote the grounds of the Ilion (Mallory's Castle) as the site for a state veterans hospital. Obviously, that didn't happen, but the booklet has value because of the information --- and photographs, most of them snapshots or postcard views, that it contains. The original is in the Lucas County Genealogical Society's collection. I found the 1931 photo of the Ritz Theatre, used yesterday, in this booklet, too.

A fairly obvious change involves the route of Highway 14 as it enters Chariton. When this photo was taken the B.N.&S.F. (then C.B.&Q.) underpass was about half a block northwest of its current location, which made South Main Street the most likely route to the square from the south. Now, Highway 14 curves gently to the right before passing under the tracks and leads up to South Grand.

The square itself looks much the same. Both the Ritz Theatre building and its neighbor to the west had been rebuilt after the destructive fire of February, 1930, but the former Temple Building site still was a gaping south-side hole --- as it remained for many years. But the Kubitsheck Block, which burned during late March, 1965, still is standing on the southwest corner of the square --- where the U.S. Bank drive-up is located now.

The Masonic Temple had not been built yet, so a big old house still is standing on its current site at the intersection of Armory and South Grand. And the Armory, a block west at the intersection of Armory Avenue and South Main, is still there, too. It burned a few years later.

Construction of the new City Hall and Fire Station hadn't begun either, although there is a reproduction of an architect's watercolor showing what it would look like in the booklet. (I wonder where the original of this went to? It's very distinctive and it seems to me I've seen it somewhere. But where?)

Anyhow, I've spent way too much time playing with this map --- when I should have been doing other things. Now you can, too.

This photo of the Hotel Charitone also was included in the booklet. The hotel really didn't change much between 1931 and a later photo, dating from about 10 years later, that's more familiar. But the vehicles parked near it certainly did.

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