Here we begin our year’s account of the small towns and main streets of America. Lest we not start on such a high note that the rest of the year is a disappointment. Alliance looks like a fine little town. Eighty-five hundred souls. Home to Carhenge.. Let's see what we can see.

I’d cover up the old sign entirely. It just makes people think you’re a Johnny-come-lately.


Furniture and carpets, says the old faded sign.

Obviously an addition, and I usually suspect the four-window one is the most recent. Times are good, you expand, you go big.

Two buildings - you can see the seam. But not identical.

United by the inevitable Buckaroo Revival overhang.

Does anyone ever care how lousy this looks, after all these years?


Modernization-wise, it’s not bad. Really: it’s not as bad as it could be. The awning makes it work.

But the awning came later. The light stone, the blinding up above, the coat of stucco preceded it, I think. Odd sill on the windows; you usually don’t see that. Makes me think that touch must be almost recent. Like, only 20 years ago.

Ah, the past, intact.

Complete with psuedo-Nagel, for all those 80s gals.

OUMB, fever-dream division:

Again, they had to hint at columns, because real banks used to have columns.

Fine old sign:

This is actually quite remarkable. To have survived for this long!

What happened after 1909?


Proud, beautiful, empty.


As we like to say: Whoa.

The marquee, as you might have guessed, came later. It contains portions of the original.

The Ben-Grimm style stone is never a friendly addition, but when used like this, you think the owner was expecting the Allies to appear on the horizon and invade.


An attractive - sort of - modern bank. Fifties minimalism always has class, if they spent a buck or two.

I am pro-metal facades, because they remind you that people in the past wanted a new look, and chose something completely modern that literally obscured the past.

A few of these are necessary for understanding any old Main Street.


“Make the new one juuuust a little bit bigger. Just a bit. Not so much that people would know right away.”

FRANKLE had a sense of restraint:

I’d say 30s, if I had to. Because it blends in so nicely with . . .



Which came first, the Frankle or the Bauman?

The entire block is a collection of local names. This one's interesting:

  “The problems of a businessman? I could write a book. Well, maybe not a whole book.”

He was a beverage bottler,. When he died the business passed to his son and wife. It ended up in a lawsuit, which is a sad read.

“Heritages 1 through 5 may have failed, but I’ll be switched if this isn’t the one that makes me my pile.”



The Eagles building attests to the prosperity of Alliance - the fastest growing town in the state, for a while.



We end our visit here:

  Mr Reddish was a “bonded abstractor,” which sounds both official and surreal.
  Of the Wilson Brothers, we can only guess.