Themis and Spanish Landmarks

This green stucco building at the northeast corner of Spanish and Themis was the Doyle’s Hat Shop I mentioned in the story about my grandmother, Elsie Adkins Welch. She would ride a wagon from Advance to Cape to buy a new bonnet there.

A Missourian column, Lost and Saved provides some historical background: The two-story brick stucco building, designed with Italianate influences served as the residence of Elizabeth Doyle and as her business, the Doyle Hat Shop. The hat shop was located in the southwest corner of the building with the house adjoining. Mrs. E.W. Harris, aunt of Doyle, started the hat shop in 1859 and, when she passed away in 1908, Doyle took over the family business. Doyle had a pet fox terrier named Dan and, when he died in 1922, it made the newspaper that she was in mourning over losing her beloved pet. When Doyle died in 1925, her daughter in-law, Mrs. E.M. Doyle, ran the business. The hat shop closed in 1960.

Teen Age Club

Teens from the 1960s will recall walking through this door and going up to the Teen Age Club located on the second floor.

Officials shut down dance

This is the building where the kids were gyrating so enthusiastically the floor started bouncing Officials shut down the dance before the building could collapse.

Dancing in the parking lot

Not to be deterred, the teens moved out to the bank parking lot at the corner of Broadway and Main. Follow the link to see more photos.

Common Pleas Courthouse

If you look up the hill to the west, you’ll see the Common Pleas Courthouse overlooking the downtown area.

Sportsman’s Club 39 N. Water St.

I shot the doorway to the Sportsman’s Club at 39 North Water Street when I was going through one of my periodic “peeling paint” phases. I didn’t know anything about the Sportsman’s Club, I just thought it was neat. It was probably shot around 1966.

Sportsman’s Club in 2009?

When I went walking down Water Street in 2009, I carried a copy of the photo with me to see if I could shoot a before and after picture. I thought it looked like it had become the back entrance to Port Cape. The door post at the right looks the same, only in better condition; there are two courses of brick on the left side of the door and an open space with a foundation stone sticking out.

39 North Water St. collapsed in 1968

I was surprised to run across an October 16, 1968, Missourian story that said the front part of the building at 39 North Water Street had collapsed. Workers for Gerhardt Construction said the two-story brick structure apparently caved in from the roof because of its old age.

How could something collapse in 1968, but still be around in 2009? This aerial photo of that block, taken before 1968, shows the three-story building that became Port Cape on the right. To its left, next to the parking lot that looks like a missing tooth, is a two-story building with three windows. Sandwiched in the middle is a two-story building with five windows.

It sounds like the 39 Water Street building collapsed from the middle in, spilling some bricks into the street, but leaving at least the front wall partially intact. It must have been rebuilt as a one-story building.

Problems with “Negro” Sunday night dances

Harold Abernathy, Oscar Abernathy, Charles Wilson, Harry Lee and Maso Meacham, representing the Sportsman’s Club, 39 North Water, an organization seeking to help Negro teen-age youngsters, called on the city council, The Missourian reported Dec. 9, 1958, using distinctions that signal how segregated the city was going into the 60s.

A Sunday night dance sponsored by the group was halted when there was a complaint. The council explained that city ordinance prohibits public dances on Sunday. If the organization was private, the said, did not sell tickets and held a party as a private organization, that was another matter.

The visitors said it was a private group designed to raise funds to provide recreation for teen-age Negro youths. Programs for the youths are held on Friday nights during the school year and on Tuesday and Friday in the summer, they said.

Caught fire in 1939

Cape’s downtown was threatened by fire when three business buildings caught fire, The Missourian reported Feb. 27, 1939. The blaze started on the second floor and involved the Co-op drug store, Fred Bark’s cafe, the Louis Suedekum cafe and beer parlor and a rooming house entrance on the Main Street side. On the Water Street side, were the Charles Young and Ben Edwards Negro cafes.

The paper said the fire apparently started on one of the Young Negro rooming houses, how or exactly where hadn’t been determined at the time of the writing.

Mr. and Mrs. Barks, who lived above their cafe, were momentarily trapped there. Mr. Barks, who hadn’t been feeling well, was in bed. Mrs. Barks rushed upstairs, using a rear stairway, then on fire, to call him. This was the only exit, and it was shut off by fire and smoke before they could escape. Firemen had to place a ladder on the front of the building to get them to safety.

The third floor of the Young building was mostly gutted and some damage was done to the second floor. Since the aerial shows that it was only two stories in the middle 60s, I’m guessing that the building lost its third story during its repair.

1965 Live Nativity Scene

Close to 2,000 people a day stopped by the live Nativity scene on the steps leading to the Common Pleas Courthouse in 1965. The exhibit proved so popular that the run was extended past the expected Christmas Eve closing date.

Gregory Williams overcame his initial fears to become friends with the display’s donkey.

Not sure about the animals

His sister, Ellen, wasn’t quite sure she was comfortable with the animals. She decided the fence was less likely to bite. Gregory and Ellen are the children of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Williams, 2412 Brookwood.

A sheepish encounter

Linda and Roger Ziegler found out that the sheep would eat from the hands. Linda said the sheep were “cute.” Another child noted that the donkey is “bigger” than the donkeys on television. They are the children of Mr. and Mrs. August Ziegler, 323 S. Middle

Boys wanted to stay overnight

A night watchmen found six boys in the exhibit one night. They weren’t there to cause mischief, he said. They just wanted to spend the night with the animals, they told him.

In case you’re wondering, no, I don’t have a great memory for names. I happened to run across the Dec. 24, 1965, Youth Page where these photos ran originally.

Hecht’s Department Store

One of the things I best remember about Old Town Cape’s Main Street was Hecht’s Department Store. Even as a kid I was fascinated by the sailing ship weather vane that perched atop the building at 107 N. Main. I snapped this shot Oct. 15, 2003. I’m glad I did. It’s not there today.

What happened to the weather vane?

The Missourian was asked by a reader what had happened to it. Here’s the answer:

“We had a major windstorm back in the fall before we closed, and we had some slate that blew off the roof onto the sidewalk. The next day I noticed the vane was missing,” said Dan Elkins, former president of Hecht’s. “The assumption is that it blew off during the storm. I climbed up and looked for it on the lower roof line, thinking it might have fallen there, because it was heavy and not likely to go far. If it blew to the street, someone could have picked it up.

“I doubt someone stole it,” Elkins said. “It was tall, a good 3-4 feet in height and solid. It’s a relic, definitely, from when the building was built in 1927. It was original with the building, designed by architect Thomas P. Barnett.”

Holy Cow, where’s her top?

As a kid, I remember a round piece of furniture inside the store. I’m going to say that it was red and had seats around a center piece that rose up to be a tall back rest. It was a perfect place for a squirmy kid to crawl around while his mother was shopping.

What I DON’T remember is the topless babe on the ceiling above the entrance.

Maybe it was because my Mother would distract me when we walked in, “Hey, look at that funny seat for you to play on.”

Hecht’s anchored downtown for 86 years

Hecht’s was the second oldest business in continuous operation downtown. Lang’s Jewelers opened a year before Hecht’s. Marty and Tootie Hecht retired in 2004, after nearly six decades of operating the store.

The store, which had been converted to a bar, was empty when I was home in the spring.

Scott Moyers did a history of the store that’s worth reading.

Hecht’s Photo Gallery

Click on any photo to make it larger, then click on the left or right side of the image to step through the images.