Saturday, March 16, 2013

Building Detective: Baughman Motor Co.

If you squint a little, it might still be possible to see 1950 Buicks displayed behind plate glass in this sleek but modest mid-century modern building at the intersection of South Main Street and Linden Avenue in Chariton. Although without a retail tenant, it has been kept in good repair and seems virtually unchanged since in was constructed during 1949 to house the Banghman Motor Co. A sloped roof has been added to the once-flat permanent awnings that shade the big windows, but that's about it.

Here's a little more history that I pulled together yesterday for the "Square Deal" blog:

127 South Main Street

The Baughman Motor Co Building at the intersection of South Main Street and Linden Avenue was constructed during 1949 to house a Buick dealership owned by Verne D. Baughman and his son, Verne D. "Bill" Baughman Jr. The elder Baugman had been in the automobile business in Chariton since 1914 and had owned the Buick franchise since 1939. Renus Johnson was contractor.

The Chariton Leader of Aug. 9, 1949, reported that "...the Baughman Motor company building (is) going up on Main street, a half block south of the City Hall and directly north of Legion Home on the site formerly occupied by the Standard Oil Service Station.

"The Baughman building will house a Buick agency, with a showroom in the front and a workshop occupying the rear of the building. Although the work has been held up somewhat by obstructions, such as a 50-foot deep well, encountered, Contractor Renus Johnson expects to complete the job November. 1."

A photograph of the completed building was published on the front page of The Leader of Nov. 8, 1949, with the caption "Above is the new Buick garage, erected on the lot just south of Dr. Sollis' building (curent location of the fire department wing of City Hall) and across the street north of the Legion Home. The Baughman Motor company will occupy it in the near future. Vern Baugman and Bill Baughman will operate it."

The building has changed little since it was constructed, although a sloped roof has been added to the original flat canopy the shelters the show indows.

Bill Baughman died of a heart attack during November of 1958, but the business continued to be operated until the summer of 1963 by his widow, Wilma, and father, Verne. During June of 1963, the building was sold to Ron Carr, then doing business on South Grand Street, as a new location for Carr's Firestone, Inc. A grand opening of the new Firestone store was held during October of that year. The Carrs remained in business here as Chariton Tire Service until selling the firm to Joe Banks during 1971.

The corner lot upon which the Baughman building was constructed had been the site previously of a service station, identified in 1949 as the Standard Oil station.

Prior to it use as a service station location, the lot had been the site of one of Chariton's earliest hotels, known for much of its life as the Pitman House but at the time of its destruction by fire during 1904 as the Chariton House.

The location of these various businesses along South Main Street makes more sense when it is remembered that before the railroad underpass now serving Highway 14 was rebuilt, South Main was the principal entrance to the square from the south (Highway 14 now curves east and feeds traffic to the square up South Grand). Here is a report of the 1904 from The Patriot of Aug. 4, that year, that contains a little history of the earlier building on the lot:

Old Hotel Was Destroyed Last Sunday Morning

The Iowa hotel corner of Main street and Linden Avenue was destroyed by fire last Sunday morning about 5 o'clock. The sixteen or eighteen boarders escaped by jumping from the second-story windows. Some of them got out with very little clothing upon them.

The fire was discovered in the hallway and fire and smoke cut off egress down the stairs. An electric light wire is supposed to have caused the blaze. The fire burned very slowly, but the building being an old frame structure the work of the fire department availed practically nothing.

The hotel was taken charge of by S.O. Slater some three months ago. He estimates his loss at $800 with $350 insurance. There was $700 insurance on the building which is the property of Mrs. S.O. Fenderson while she lives. Upon her death, it reverts to the Bonnett estate.

The hotel was one of the early landmarks of Chariton, It was built in 1861 by Mrs. W.E. Edgington (Edginton). For many years it was known as the Pitman House and for some time was managed by S. Baily. Since that time it has changed management several times.

Mrs. Slater was in delicate health and the shock proved too much for her. She was taken to the home of Rev. F.B. Palmer and has been under a physician's care ever since. Mr. Slater and two children and one of the domestics are also at the home of Mr. Palmer, who with his wife are proving the truth of the adage, "A friend in need is a friend indeed." In the instance of these people, without a home and its comforts among strangers, an opportunity is offered the people of Chariton to lend a helping hand. Mr. Slater says that as soon as his wife's health will permit he will start in the hotel business again, providing he can secure a suitable location.

W.E. Grayson, an old soldier who was stopping at the hotel was more fortunate in saving his effects than the others. His valise, containing clothes, money, pension papers, etc., was found under the lower floor after the fire and the contents were uninjured.

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