Twenty-five thousand souls - a perfect size for a downtown that's either meeting the challenges of the 21st century head-on, or has declined into a constant, shameful reminder of past strengths. Can't be both, you know.

Any guesses what this is? You should know by now.


Correct. Or at least it was, once.

A law office. Or a cunning trap!

The guilty approach the door, and a motion detector triggers the silver panels, which swing down and smash the guilty like a fly.

I'd like to think they added the third story later.

But I'm not sure. It's the phone company, and I don't know if it housed any switches or relays or whatever they have in there. The brick patterns on the third story match the patterns between the first and second floors, so perhaps they brought back the original architect, and he got revenge for not getting paid enough the first time.


Another test: do you know what this is? No, it's not a 1920s franchise chain that sold quaint pies.

The chimney is different, but I'd bet it's a Pure Oil gas station. They had those steeply pitched roofs. It's on a corner, which also says Gas Station. I could be wrong about the brand, but I don't think I'm wrong about its original use.

Why did they use the Storybook Cottage motif for gas stations, though? Was there something so magical about automobiles that they wanted to add a whimsical note of fairy-tale locations?


The unfortunate banishment of the upper floor.

This is the point where I google names and learn things I should have added to the pictures above. Heaven forbid I should do some research unless it's absolutely necessary - which, of course, it isn't; this is hardly some authoritative project. Anyway: it says Hendy. There's a keyword. But you need more.


Hendy-Ogier? Yes. It was an automobile dealership, built in 1929. Just in time.

Go ahead, pry its original raison d'etre off the wall. Double dare you.

Hendy-Ogier Auto. I feel bad for the person who had to answer the phone.


Blank though the Hendy-Ogier upper floors may be, they're baroque compared to the Cash Spot:

If there was another facade, it's in jail now.


Well, looks like there's not much around town after all, so HOLY COW


Another proud act of hope from 1929. Designed by F. A. Henninger. Ran as a movie theater until 1980, and I can only imagine the indiginities it suffered over the years. It's a community playhouse now.

The 20s were so generous.

This is the sort of urban view that made a fellow hitch his thumbs in his suspenders and beam with pride; town's getting big.



It's the The Pawnee Hotel:


Originally the Yancey, renamed in 1932.

Yes, it's an old-folks home now. Of course. The residents were once the children who came downtown with Mom and Dad and wondered what glamorous things happened in the town's big hotel. Now they sit in the lobby and wait for the nice young lady to come by with the casserole. It's always casserole on Tuesdays. But look at what's survived all these years: