This one, if you don't know Newark, has something incredible.

Okay, it’s not a small town. But this feature cannot spend all of its time lamenting the shuttered stores of indistinguishable Texas hamlets. It could, but variety, spice, etc.

This short stretch of Newark fascinates me. You can read the old boom, the sullen trough (when nothing new was built), the depressed years of the 60s when they barely had the resources to take down old stuff or ruin Jazz Age facades.

Look at this! That’s almost a 100-year-old view, right there behind the detritus.


It’s been closed since 1986, its 100th anniversary. Hold on, you say, that’s not an 1886 design. Correct! Thomas Lamb remodeled it in 1917. Well, he had help.



There are plans to bring it back. In the meantime, some great pics of the trashed interior here.

The building has been rescued, but there’s an old drunk on the roof still yelling at people:


It’s been a long time since anyone put up a permanent billboard for a tavern. And don’t you know that was a lively place.

Top to bottom, the story of Newark:


1871 - 1929. Not a propitious set of numbers. It’s like markings on a tombstone.


2012: Bernard’s Shoe Repair, a sign that must have been a half century old, was still there.


And now it’s not. The Buckaroo’d Chicken Shack survives, though.


2012 Mannings, whatever that was, had a vertical sign, one of the things that gives a street visual pique.



2012: The street has that Led Zep Physical Graffiti vibe.



But now:

On the way up, in other words.



No one will ever wonder about this building. What went on inside. Who designed it. Whose name might have been carved on the cornice. What stores and offices came and went.

We all know it’s either an office building for a big company or bank, or a government center. And there all the mystery ends.


I would've been content to leave the entry as it was, but I went back to check something and discovered a building that just . . . astonishes me. Hardly news to Newarkians, but for those of us soaring over the city on Google Earth like bored crows, it's a remarkable revelation.




Let's take a look at the tall tower faced with terra-cotta. I've photoshopped the street view to look straight on:



That's an impressive overhang, and you might think: theater?

Has to be. But look again at the complex:

It looks like the thin structure's top floor is just a lobby that leads to the main theater, which is up on the top floor. If not a theater, then an auditorium of some sort.

But there's more!


It goes all the way around the block. It all looks connected.


And it's crumbling.


No one at the time figured this was the future.

What was this extraordinary building? Who lofted the movie palace into the clouds?

Frederick Proctor, that's who. Cinema Treasures:

Opened on Thanksgiving Day – November 25, 1915, Proctor’s Palace Theatre in downtown Newark was one of the rare “double decker” theatres. Designed by architect John W. Merrow, the eight-story complex had a large 2,800-seat theatre at ground level with seating on orchestra & 2 balcony levels and a smaller ‘roof garden’ theatre of about 1,400 seats occupying the top four floors beneath the roof. That gives a total of 4,200 seats in the two auditoriums. The 10-story high facade of the fairly narrow building contained only the 40-foot high lobby of the larger theatre, which had its auditorium behind it, and offices above. A series of murals in the lobbies were by painter William de Leftwich Dodge.

A derilect since 1968. Much more here.





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.