Thursday, June 13, 2013

A Fire Station and a Hotel: The Buildings in the 100 Block of North Main

by Kristine Schmucker, HCHM Curator
One of the great things about working at a museum is hearing the stories that can be triggered by an object, photograph or story.  When we post a story on the blog, facebook or include in an exhibit, we never know what new stories will come as a result.  The blog post on Newton's Peter Pan Ice Cream Stores was quite popular. We recently revised to include some of the facebook comments and printed the article in out Summer 2013 Newsletter.  Now, another chapter of the story has come to light.  Two longtime museum supporters and Harvey County natives read the newsletter article and shared their memories of the 100 block of North Main. 

Hotel Meridian and Sinclair Filling Station
2nd & Main, Newton
15 August 1968
HCHM Photo Archives
Thank you to John Wiebe, who took the time to write a letter describing his memories and to Tom Rose who called and visited with me.  The old ways of communication still work just fine.

"In the picture, you can see a garage door on the south side of the building." (Wiebe letter)

In his letter, Mr. Wiebe noted that the south side fire department was located at that location in the south part of the brick building.  The firemen may have lived above.  Wiebe recalled that "when the door was open you could see the fire engine."  Tom Rose shared his memory of the building as well.  When he was a young boy, the firemen would sit in front of the station on metal chairs.  Rose and his friends would ride bikes past and sometimes stop to visit with the crew.  And sometimes, the firemen would allow the boys to go inside and slide down the pole. 

A directory search revealed that Fire Station No 2 was located at 119 N. Main from approximately 1926 until 1948.  Between the 1948 and 1952 Directories, the new Fire Station was built at 200 East Third, Newton.
Fire Station No. 2, 200 East 3rd, Newton, 1953
HCHM Photo Archives
The Hotel Meridian/Cafe first appears in the directories in 1923 at 119-123 N. Main.  After 1926, the Hotel is listed as occupying 123 N. Main, with the Cafe at 121 N. Main, Newton.  The hotel was first managed by Lucia B. Oakes Millner and later by her daughter-in-law Winona Linville Millner Sloan.

Peter Pan Ice Cream Store appears at the 123 N. Main address from 1956 to 1966.

The buildings at 119-123 N. Main (seen in the 1968 photo) were torn down in approximately 1970. Today, Auto Parts is at this  location.  A new bank is also under construction on the lot where the Dairy Queen was located (for a history on the Dairy Queen building click here).

View of 100 Block of N. Main, June 2013
HCHM Photos
  • Wiebe, John E. letter to Kris Schmucker, HCHM Curator, 29 May 2013.
  • Rose, Tom phone conversation with Kris Schmucker, HCHM Curator, 6 June 2013.
  • Newton City Directories 1919-1956
  • For a history of the Newton Fire Department before 1922 see Warhurst, Elvin E., "Early Fire Protection in Newton, Kansas, 1872-1922, compiled in 1995. HCHM Archives.

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