Wednesday, October 21, 2015

"Bates Studio" emerges from the past

"Bates Studio" emerged temporarily from the past on the west side of the square Tuesday when preliminary restoration work on the Johansen Plumbing & Heating facade revealed the ghost of this vintage business name, painted on the prism glass of the 1915 storefront of what then was called the Stanton Building.

Elements of an archaeological expedition are involved in the facade renovation project that launched this week.

Although chipped and faded and difficult to read, it you knew what you were looking at, it wasn't that difficult to make out the reminder of a commercial venture that had been a fixture on the square for more than 60 years when it closed its doors at this location during the 1980s.

The Stanton/Johansen building is one of 15 involved in the facade renovation project, total cost of which is estimated at $1.2 million.


Stanton/Johansen contains at its heart the second brick building built on the square --- during 1867 by T.A. Matson after a disastrous fire during February of that year destroyed an earlier frame structure and all other buildings south of it to Court Avenue. Originally, Matson's saddle shop was located on the second floor. A couple of years later, Chariton National Bank acquired the building and moved in.

Dr. Theodore P. Stanton, a physician, acquired the vintage brick building during the second decade of the 20th century and, in 1915, extended it 40 feet to the rear and added the wonderful Richardson Romanesque stone facade that matches almost perfectly the 1901 double facade of the Crocker-Ensley block immedately to the north.

Dr. Stanton remodeled the second floor into his offices, later occupied by his son, Dr. Edwin Stanton, a dentist.

At about the same time, ca. 1916, J.E. Bates founded Bates Studio on the square and by 1920 had moved his photography business into the Stanton Building's first-floor commercial space. 

Photography studios at the time generally were located on upper floors, so Bates made a great point of advertising his newly relocated business as Chariton's "ground floor studio."

Bates sold out and moved elsewhere during 1945, but the Bates Studio name accompanied the business and became a fixture on the square until the studio closed its doors for the final time during October of 1982.


Chariton received during 2013 the $500,000 Community Development Block Grant that will fund slightly more than a third of facade improvement construction costs. Building owners will pay a third of the cost, too --- and the balance will be local match.

All building owners in the Courthouse Square Historic District were invited to participate in the project and the owners of 15 buildings ultimately decided to do so.

Klingner & Associates, of Burlington, evaluated all buildings on the square and prepared detailed plans for all improvement projects. The plans were reviewed and approved by the State Historic Preservation Office, then were bid and will be administered during the next year as a unit.

The work involves only building facades --- any work carried out inside or elsewhere on participating buildings is entirely the responsibility of owners. 

Once the project is complete, the city of Chariton will have a seven-year easement on each facade. Those easements are transferrable, however, in case a building is sold.

Here are the participating buildings on the west side of the square: 101 North Main (the 1883 "Good Luck" Building); 103-105 North Main (the 1880 Day & Mooney Block, immediately north of the Good Luck Building); 109 North Main (The Office, or north half of what was known originally as the Exchange Block); 111 North Main (The 1867/1915 Stanton/Johansen Building); 119 North Main (The K. Threlkeld Agency building, north half of the 1869 Manning & Penick Block); and 131 North Main (Chariton Vision Center, or the 1904 Hollinger & Larimer Block).

North side: 915 Braden (the Laing Building, housing Edward Jones Financial Services, west third of the 1893 Brown Block).

East side: 128-130 North Grand (the 1879/1880 Iowa Realty Building); 118 N. Grand (the 1894 Knights of Pythias building); and 104 North Grand (the Chariton Area Chamber/Main Street building).

South side: 906 and 908 Court Avenue (the Connecticut Yankee Pedaller --- built 1927/1930 as The Ritz Theater --- and the 1930 Cramer Building, immediately to the west).

South of the square: 113 South Grand (Chat Mobility), 107 South Main (H&R Block) and 124 South Main (Chariton Ford-Mercury).

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