A city of 13,700 souls - and as is often the case, it looks as if it once held many more. It was born of coal. History:

"In 1866 Worthy S. Streator, a prominent railroad promoter from Cleveland, Ohio, financed the region's first mining operation. Streator approached his nephew Col. Ralph Plumb at a railway station in December 1865 about overseeing a mining operation in central Illinois for him and several investors.

Colonel Plumb agreed and arrived in the town then called Hardscrabble in February 1866. Success of the project required a rail line near the mines. Plumb and Streator "invited" Streator's friend, then Ohio Congressman James A. Garfield to sign on as an investor. In return, Garfield was expected to work with Robert C. Schenck, then the president of the American Central railroad, in getting the railroad to "bend their lines" to Streator."

They didn't.

Let's take a stroll. Renovations are good; tenants are also good.


Nice looking main street. Let’s check out the details.

It’s like some sort of parasite fastened itself to the face of the building:

The dreaded Green Shingle Buckaroo style.

Dang it, now where do I go for Rats?


Original tile and displays. Nothing special about them, except that most of the examples of the style are gone - so now they’re quite special.

That’s the most ridiculous “classical” facade I’ve seen in years.


Don’t get me wrong, I love the fact that it’s survived, and applaud their attempt to ennoble the street, but it’s clumsy. The lower floor doesn't match at all, but the color scheme suggests a 50s redo - or, if I had to lay money, something from the 30s. Based on the brick.



You know what that was.

“We use this in OCD therapy. If they can stare at the facade without getting nervous, we know the treatment’s going well.”





This must have been gorgeous. Those windows!

But now the H&R Block signage seems to be standing on tiptoe, and the windows have to peer over the top. It wasn’t redesigned as a tax preparer office, of course; those windows tell you it was retail, and redone in the 50s or early 60s.

Gee, wonder where the staircase was:


Google returned later with happy news:



“When it senses a predator, the creature is able to change its coloring to appear as though it is a rock, instead of something edible.”


It's like the building was mummified.

“Don’t know if people will associate our store and the word FURNITURE with the idea of ‘home.’ What could we do about that? Some kind of symbol maybe?”


If I had to guess, I’d say the three-window building on the right was the original structure, and the longer building with more variegated brick was the extension made in boom times.

Next door, some local pride.

It reminds you of an early White Tower / White Castle buildins.


Hmm: some research indicates that the Woolley Drug was sold in 1918 to someone who wasn’t named Woolley. I’ll spare you the details, except to say that was 20 minutes of unrewarding googling and poring through old pharmacy industry magazines.

“Walter, c’mon. Really?”



If only they’d held on a little longer, the trees would have brought downtown back.

There are times when I know in my gut this was always an office building and never a hotel, and this is one of them. I almost hate to google around and see if I was wrong.

I don't think I am wrong.

Pile-up on Main:


What’s going on with the original building, though? The amount of jankyness on that second floor is practically unprecedented in this feature.

A classic main street mainstay:



More 60s than 50s, I think.



Looks like the original windows, and that suggests the entire structure was built in the late 20s, early 30s.


“Okay, if you two boys can’t get along, I’m splittin’ the building and leaving you both a part. You’ll have to get along to keep it maintained.



“The board of directors does not like the building. Can you change the design so it looks as if the building is gentling alighting on its site?”


This is the bluntest, most intimidating Masonic Temple I’ve ever seen:

You really get the sense there's a bald Egyptian guy in there conducting sacrifices by candlelight.

This I just love. That’s all.


Was it bricked up and boarded over time, or all at once? That’s one of the quintessential main street views, and it makes the past seem like something we can never see again.


Around the corner, something brilliant:

Cinema treasures has more pictures that show the building next door.You can see how it was mauled.


Once upon a time:


And that's what I saw in Streator. Have a look; give it my regards.






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.