• Last modified 395 days ago (June 20, 2018)



As Marion prepares to embark on a downtown renovation, here’s what Main St. looked like around 110 years ago.

A dirt road in horse-and-buggy days

A bustling dirt road, filled with a mix of horse-drawn and horseless carriages, provided Marion’s main drag 110 years ago, as seen in this view looking east from the top of Rogers Hall, later known as the creamery building, at what’s now Webster Automotive’s parking lot at the jog in Main St. at 1st St.

At right in the foreground was an Overland auto dealership owned by Jacob Batt. Overland, eventually owned by Willys, maker of the World War II Jeep, was at the time the second largest U.S. automaker, behind Ford.

Many of the buildings in the photo are still present. On the north (left) side of the first block, a general store occupied the building that now houses County Seat Home Décor.

In the next block was a hardware store in the building formerly occupied by Country Lakes Café, a barber shop where Martin’s Barber Shop is located, and a tailor, a jeweler, and a newspaper office to the east. A general store occupied the present Cazadore’s Restaurant building along with the next two storefronts, which were destroyed by fire in the 1960s. In the present Bowron Building at the corner were another jeweler and a grocer.

Only one fourth of the first building in the next block survives; a restaurant at the time, it’s now home of Bearly Mak’n It antiques. The vacant former Wheeler Law Offices building was a bank. A plumbing company occupied the building that now houses Fam-Lee Bakery. A hardware store was across the street east where Cibotech Labs now has its offices.

On the south (right) side of the street, many of the earlier structures did not survive.

Businesses at the time of the photo included an auto dealership, billiards parlor, feed store, two restaurants and a millinery store in the first block, and a furniture store, three barber shops, another jeweler, a restaurant, a dry goods store, and a drug store in the second block.

In the background was the Hill School, still with its bell in its tower, said at the time to be visible from 10 miles away in any direction.

Last modified June 20, 2018