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Pieces of Marion's past hide in plain sight

Staff writer

The structures disappeared long ago, an old bridge and an old bank, both demolished to make way for newer better ones. But remnants of both can be found in around town in plain sight.

Main St. bridge railing, 1908

Marion history enthusiast Bob Good seeks out and posts pictures and postcards from Marion’s past on social media. Friends and Marion High School alumni comment on many items he posts.

“I put historic Marion pictures online for people to enjoy,” Good said. “I like to keep the town history alive.”

One was a picture of the double stone arch bridge from 1908, which was replaced by a “new” concrete bridge in the 1920’s. 

Marion alumnus Debbie Reznicek had a story to share about the old bridge’s railing.

“The man who was the engineer on the ‘new’ bridge built a house on Locust St. before my parents bought it in the early ’60s,” Reznicek said. “He salvaged the black iron railing from the ‘old’ bridge and used it on the front porch.”

Growing up at 117 Locust St, she had heard the story as a child from her neighbor Leta Rees.

Always curious, Good investigated, comparing his postcards to the present, and confirmed that the same railing was indeed still part of residence.

“The old bridge railing had a very distinctive elongated diamond pattern that matched the railing on the house,” he said. “The railing caps looked the same as they do in the pictures, too.”

Sarah Tolessa, current owner of the residence, said she was happily surprised to learn about her house’s connection to Marion’s history, because she didn’t know much about its past.

Arches from Marion National Bank, 1880

City streets superintendent Marty Fredrickson also has an appreciation for Marion’s history.

“I’ve always been interested in history, especially Marion’s history,” Fredrickson said. “It’s nice to talk to people who share the same interests.”

Taking his passion one step further, Fredrickson acquired several upside-down limestone arches that used to rest at the top of windows on the original Marion National Bank building.

Fredrickson said the old bank was built in 1880, and torn down about 100 years later by Dale Smith and crew.

He first noticed the arches shrouded in grassy undergrowth, while working on a utility easement bordering Smith’s property at the southwest corner of Cedar and Highland Sts. in Marion.

“Years ago, Mrs. Dale Smith told me that Dale kept the stone arches as part of payment for the demolition work,” Fredrickson said. “But she wouldn’t sell them back then because of the sentimental value.”

When Mrs. Smith passed, he bought the arches from the Smith family, and displays them upside-down at the front of his property on Walnut St.

“I might flip the arches right-side-up, but there’s not much area for them to stand on,” he said. “Until I can find a good way to support them, it’s a safety concern if people climb on them.”

The arches’ design is similar to the Bearly Makin’ It building, he said, and he thinks that Fred Lewis, a stonemason known to have done much of the stonework around Marion at the time, may have carved the arches.

“Back then people had no TV, radio, and worked from sun up to sun down,” Fredrickson said. “When you look at some of the stonework you realize that they were pretty artistic people.”

Last modified Jan. 21, 2015

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