Back to Dexter Avenue in Detroit, once a thriving commercial street. Now?

I don't think it's open Sundays anymore.


Monday through Saturday, either.

Those garlands over the rounded corner bother me. One must have fallen off; the replacement brick is a different color. But it seems like a cheap, rote thing to have stuck up there in the first place.



Explain that right bay door. Explain how all those bricks and colors ended up as they did.

I’m sure it’s for sale for the right price.

That's a tiny tiny gas station, but such things weren’t unknown. Some post-war gas stations didn’t sell much but gas and candy bars and maybe oil, so having two bays wasn’t necessary.

Either they don’t want someone to throw a rock through their stained glass window . . .



. . . or someone already did.

Once prosperous commercial / residential building . . .

Now bricked up with extreme prejudice. “MEDICAID PHARMACY.”

Old citizens like this make it seem unlikely that anything will come back and inhabit these spaces - they’ll have to be swept away and replaced. Or just swept away.


What was the thinking behind the deployment of small strips of glass blocks?

What went on inside after the glass storefronts were bricked up, and what events led up to that decision? Multiply the questions X1000 and you have Detroit.


I don’t know. Y?

Check out the sign on the left - just a frame now, but once a bright fixture with an arrow pointing down. I wouldn’t be surprised if the bulbs lit up in sequence, pointing to the store.

All these strange old frameworks for long-gone signs: they look like strange insects feasting on the nectar of the building’s despair.


If that’s not too melodramatic. Which it is.

Huh. Hmm. Somehow the paint came off the cladding in exact squares.

The cladding, by the way, looks like a rehab from long ago. Brick beneath at the bottom. But how did the bottom look? Is that a framework left when some strange sidewalk-level bevel was attached to the building?

More next week. It keeps going and going, and going. Down. Hey, it's cold, grey February. This stuff is apt.




A humble start to this year's entry. Population: 3,460, give or take a few souls. It has ambition, though: the hotel no doubt made everyone think of the bustling train depot in old Gotham, with its brisk, sophisticated cosmopolitan scene.

It has a Facebook page. One comment: "The rooms are clean upon arrival but not much by way of getting towels and tp on a regular basis if your stay is extended. We ended up having to buy our own. Owners are really friendly though." That counts for more than you might think,

Unhappy brickwork on that green building. But a ghost sign redeems the view:

Owl Cigars. But was it a White Owl? That's what I don't know. Some signs for the White Owl brand said just Owl. If they'd have had modern marketing sensibiilties, they would have had White Owl, Black Owl, and so on, differentiating the flavors.

Barn Owl for the really nasty cheroots.

And what, pray tell, do they sell here?

I have no idea what they're talking about. One guy sitting at a card table with a stack of daily periodicals, waiting for someone to walk by and think "by cracky, I wonder how many they have. I'd like to read a journal from a different city entirely, just to see how many funerals there are for old ladies this week."

That's a lot of turret, Mr. Hetzel.

A Nebraska historical journal says "A majority of the structures are best classified as commercial vernacular. The most prominent, Queen Anne-style building is the Hetzel Block (NH01-044), located on the southeast corner of J Street and Central Avenue. It features an imposing corner tower, carved stonework and an ornate cornice."

And that's a big fat lot of help. Who was Hetzel?

Four buildings? Or one?

The answer can be found in the number of windows.

After all these towns we've explored, you have to admit: this is all too typical. From the rehab to the awning to the paint to the refitted window.


As if a curse had stricken the land.

I have to think there was more to this one, but what remains is spectacular:


The reason for those windows? If you guessed "hall for secret Masonic rites," you're wrong. It was the New Opera House. Again, scant historical information; Auburn seems underwhelmed by its past, or disinclined to share what it knows.

Can't have the Main Streets feature without the OSA, or Obligatory Shingled Awning:

The first-floor windows above the main windows are probably bricked up for good, but the building looks like it could be restored with minimal work.

Providing there was a market for office / residential at the price it would take to fix it up, and I'm guessing there isn't. But that's what they said about Fargo before its renaissance.

The last building in the world you'd expect to house a theater:

It's still in business! The site has a "Save the State" page, though. Uh oh. Turns out it's for a renovation drive. There are no historical photos of the place. There's no history of the place.

I suppose if you needed to know, you'd know, because you lived there. It was originally the Booth - great name for a theater in a state whose capital is named Lincoln - and was renamed the state in 1941, eleven years after it opened.

Finally: The sign version of screen burn-in.

  Love that 9, although I'm sure everyone wondered why they did it backwards.


I believe this old book of biographies has our man:

Previous to his coming to Nebraska Mr. Keedy was for several years engaged in the manufacture of lime at Keedysville. He came west in 1881, locating near what was then called Sheridan, now Auburn, and here he bought one hundred and sixty acres of improved land, upon which he carried on farming until the fall of 1893, when he sold to his sons, and bought two lots in Auburn. Here he built his present residence.

When a young man in Maryland, Mr. Keedy was intiated into the mysteries of Oddfellowship. Politically, he is what is termed an independent, and in religion he also holds independent views, and has never identified himself with any creed.

There has to be a fascinating story about the reason a man named Keedy would leave Keedysville.