MEMORIES IN FOCUS: Historic buildings, now only a memory years ago
Some of Marion’s most notable old buildings, many of which survived another half-century, are clearly visible in this 1908 photo looking northwest from the top of the county’s old courthouse, itself demolished just four years later.
As civic leaders continue to struggle to determine the fate of the historic Bowron Building at 3rd and Main Sts., many citizens have expressed concern that it someday will be razed as these famous buildings were in the past half-century.
In the foreground at right is the old courthouse’s signature cupola. When the cramped old courthouse was replaced with what later became a historical structure in its own right, what had been an alley alongside the old courthouse became Williams St., and the section of Water St., which had cut through the current courthouse square, was closed.
At left in the foreground, amid debris from a razed implement dealership and a pair of clotheslines with laundry hanging from them, is the site on which the current Marion County Record building was constructed in 1910.
Frame structures in the center of the foreground were demolished around the same time to make way to make way for a brick garage building, which in recent years was torn down to create a parking lot for Central National Bank.
The real points of interest, however, are the more renowned, architecturally fascinating buildings still in their heyday half a century before being felled in the name of progress. In fact, almost all the buildings clearly visible in this photo no longer are standing.
The multi-story building with French-style mansard windows at right was the longtime home of Farmers and Drovers National Bank, later to become Central National.
Demolished in the 1960s, the building was at time of this photo home not to a bank but to a drug store, a clothing store, and, in the rear, a bakery, with a lodge hall on the second floor.
To the west, higher up in the photo, were several smaller structures, mainly obscured by the larger mansard-roofed building. They housed a billiards parlor, two barber shops, two jewelry stores, and a confectionary shop.
Clearly visible at the far end of the block was another of Marion’s most unusual structures, the Jex Building, known for its ornate cast-iron facia.
The facia cannot be seen in this photo, but another unique feature — an oversized, second-story, loft skylight that provided natural illumination for a photo studio — is clearly visible.
At the time of this photo the building housed a furniture store and a hay, feed, and coal store on its ground floor. It later became home to a hardware store and gift shop until the long-neglected structure was deemed unsafe and demolished to make way for Liberty Park in the 2000s.
Further west, near the top left of the photo, is Rogers Hall, popularly known as the creamery building, at the southwest corner of 1st and Main Sts. At the time, it housed a drug store, offices, and an implement store, with a lodge hall on the second floor.
Razed in the 1970s, it now is a parking lot for Webster Auto Service.
Not architecturally renowned but prominent in the photo is a large barn at left, known as the Palace Livery Stable. One of three livery operations in Marion at the time, it soon was to go out of business as automobiles replaced horses and carriages.
Peeking up in the distance are several recognized structures that remain: the Freeland (later Wood) veterinary clinic, the former Pantle Hardware building that most recently housed Country Lakes Café, and in between them the current home of County Seat Décor.
In the distance at right is the steeple of what at the time was Marion Christian Church, before it moved to its current location at Elm and Lawrence Sts. on the hill.
Last modified Oct. 4, 2018