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Subdude

Sears South Main

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In the new issue of Cite there is an article about the old Sears on South Main at Wheeler called "When Good Buildings Go Bad". The article is about how the beautiful old art deco building was remodeled to look like a giant metal storage shed. It says that the metal cladding was added in 1968. In the old HAIF I remember there was a thread about Sears, and someone posted some old photos of Sears shortly after the facade had been added. I could swear that they were from the early-mid 1950s, not the late 1960s. Can anyone verify if this is correct? Thanks.

Before remodeling:

Sears.jpg

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In the new issue of Cite there is an article about the old Sears on South Main at Wheeler called "When Good Buildings Go Bad". The article is about how the beautiful old art deco building was remodeled to look like a giant metal storage shed. It says that the metal cladding was added in 1968. In the old HAIF I remember there was a thread about Sears, and someone posted some old photos of Sears shortly after the facade had been added. I could swear that they were from the early-mid 1950s, not the late 1960s. Can anyone verify if this is correct? Thanks.

Before remodeling:

Wow the building is butt ugly now. :wacko:

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Why would the building be re-faced? WTF were people smoking back in the day??

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Coincidentally, I remembered a previous thread here about that Sears last night when I was driving by it. I got to wondering what, if anything, would be left of the original facade if all the metal cladding were stripped off.

I'm inclined to believe the cladding went up in the late 60s, in the absence of any other evidence save the Cite article. To my eyes it looks more like something of that era than something that would've been done 10-15 years earlier.

Edited by mkultra25

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In the new issue of Cite there is an article about the old Sears on South Main at Wheeler called "When Good Buildings Go Bad". The article is about how the beautiful old art deco building was remodeled to look like a giant metal storage shed. It says that the metal cladding was added in 1968. In the old HAIF I remember there was a thread about Sears, and someone posted some old photos of Sears shortly after the facade had been added. I could swear that they were from the early-mid 1950s, not the late 1960s. Can anyone verify if this is correct? Thanks.

Before remodeling:

Sears.jpg

Sears on Main is clearly at a 90 degree angle to the main/wheeler intersection on google maps. The post card isn't. The post card also said it is a photo, which is clearly isn't. guess i'll have to take a trip on the train soon for confirmation.

Edited by musicman

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Why would the building be re-faced? WTF were people smoking back in the day??

Art Deco really went out of style in the 50s. I guess they thought the metal looked more modern.

I remember that thread. Was there a picture of some Art Deco Sears in Los Angeles that was restored into a Wal-Mart?

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Sears on Main is clearly at a 90 degree angle to the main/wheeler intersection on google maps. The post card isn't. The post card also said it is a photo, which is clearly isn't. guess i'll have to take a trip on the train soon for confirmation.

I think it is just the angle of the picture. Maybe it was taken with a wide angle lens.

I'm inclined to believe the cladding went up in the late 60s, in the absence of any other evidence save the Cite article. To my eyes it looks more like something of that era than something that would've been done 10-15 years earlier.

To me it seems the golden age of building "modernization" with new facades would have been earlier than 1968, but that's just my take. Downtown 806 Main, the West Building, Stowers, and Lamar Hotel all got the treatment.

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I remember the before and after posts too. As I recall there was some discussion about the sign, too, and I posted that I had seen a very Art-Deco Sears sign on ?Durham? ?N. Shepherd? in Garden Oaks.

Marty

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I remember, from the 40's, a huge display window on the northwest corner of that Sears, where, at Christmas, they had a big "audio-animetronic" Santa who would move his arms and head and shout HO-HO-HO's over speakers outside. That looks like the window in Subdude's postcard. I don't remember exactly what was on the southwest corner at Main and Wheeler or the northeast corner on Fannin....probably similar display windows. The parking lot was on the north side. I know, that in the 50's-60's, there was a Sear's auto service center for tires, batteries, etc. on the north side across the parking lot from the store. I think most of the Wheeler south side was a delivery and loading dock area.

Here are a couple of pictures. Looks like some serious remodeling was done before the early 60's. The best I can date these is by the car in the southwest corner shot of the intersection of Main and Wheeler. I think it's a 1961-62 Pontiac.

Looks like this was taken from about where the Delman theater was at the time.

Sears2.jpg

This was taken looking straight down Richmond

Sears1.jpg

Edited by 57Tbird

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Wow. That change was by no means an improvement.

I remember the Art Deco sign on Shepherd. I also remember a restaurant at that particular Sears, Cattlemen's Club? Something like that.

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After looking more closely at the postcard and the later pictures, I think the postcard shot is of the north, or parking lot, side of the building. There is no step in the upper structure as in the other pictures. Therefore, Main would be on the right in the post card. Subdude is correct about the angle. I've seen other photos of buildings at a 90 degree corner that appear to be less than that.

I would guess that Gonzo's 1940 picture is of the Main-Wheeler corner.

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57Tbird, you are correct that the postcard is of the northern facade. Thanks so much for posting the pictures. These are what I was saying had been posted in the old forum. They don't prove that the aluminum cladding wasn't added until 1968 as the article states, but it certainly appears to be the case, since the newest car shown is the 1962 Pontiac pulling out on Main.

I think the article was probably correct though in saying that the windows weren't bricked in until 1968.

You really have to wonder what they were thinking when they added the facade. :wacko:

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One thing maybe to consider on the reason was the adoption of air conditioning. Windows may have been covered to help "insulate" and aluminum added to help deflect the sun. Just a guess.

I always wondered if that is also why ranch style houses were so prevalant in the 50-60's as well. Since A/C was probably not so efficient, they decided to have small windows and 1 story "compartmentalized" houses to try to make the most of the A/C available. Just a guess again....

/no formal architecture history training

//returning to lurk

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Does anyone really refer to this area as "South Main" like Cite does?

i think of the loop/astrodome/holmes rd. when i hear south main

Edited by sevfiv

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Does anyone really refer to this area as "South Main" like Cite does?

I think of everything south of 610 as South Main.

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Here are a couple of pictures. Looks like some serious remodeling was done before the early 60's. The best I can date these is by the car in the southwest corner shot of the intersection of Main and Wheeler. I think it's a 1961-62 Pontiac.

I would vote for earlier than '68, too, By 1968 you didn't see fifties cars as commonly or in as good of shape as the ones in the Richmond photo. I know because at that age I was totally obsessed with cars and ones that old would certainly have caught my attention. In those days a ten-year-old car would have been much closer to the scrap heap than a ten-year-old car is today.

Oh, and South Main is actually from about Elgin or so south, at least in the old vernacular. Rice University changed its address from 6100 South Main to 6100 Main Street within the last six years or so.

Marty

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It would be great if the art deco form was still underneath after all those years.

The best thing that happened to this property was the general vicnity's overall demise. Otherwise it most likely would have been torn down to make way for something even less desirable than the current Sears!

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I love that Sears. It's a bit funky, but still functional even today.

I bought my garage workbench there a few years back. The Crafstman tool area in the basement is the store's best asset.

I remember eating french fries in the restaurant in the mid 70s. Then the restaurant morphed into a bookstore, phone store and now looks like a storage area.

Check out the Sam Houston/Texas mural in the store's south stairwell.

They don't make murals like that anymore. Heck, you don't even see stairwells anymore.

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Wondering about the cladding:

I wonder if the original concrete? stucco? walls had deteriorated (Hurricane Carla, maybe?) and the metal cladding was a cheaper alternative to redoing them? I can't think of another building that has that kind of cladding as an architectural feature.

Yes, good store, that Sears. I don't live there anymore, but when I did live in the area it was a very good (reasonable price, good quality) source for car stuff, clothes, photo studio services, things like that.

Marty

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Does anyone really refer to this area as "South Main" like Cite does?

My mother, who is 70, still refers to this store as the Sears on South Main. I think it's because that's what it was called when she went there as a young girl.

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I remember, from the 40's, a huge display window on the northwest corner of that Sears, where, at Christmas, they had a big "audio-animetronic" Santa who would move his arms and head and shout HO-HO-HO's over speakers outside. That looks like the window in Subdude's postcard. I don't remember exactly what was on the southwest corner at Main and Wheeler or the northeast corner on Fannin....probably similar display windows. The parking lot was on the north side. I know, that in the 50's-60's, there was a Sear's auto service center for tires, batteries, etc. on the north side across the parking lot from the store. I think most of the Wheeler south side was a delivery and loading dock area.

Here are a couple of pictures. Looks like some serious remodeling was done before the early 60's. The best I can date these is by the car in the southwest corner shot of the intersection of Main and Wheeler. I think it's a 1961-62 Pontiac.

Looks like this was taken from about where the Delman theater was at the time.

Sears2.jpg

This was taken looking straight down Richmond

Sears1.jpg

We used to live on the corner Greely and S. Main. I remember my mom walking my brother and I to that Sears right up the road. Used to play with a kid named Billy up the street.

At one time there was an elementary school located on Greely and S. Main across the street from where we lived. It's since been torn down and HSPVA was built there.

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We used to live on the corner Greely and S. Main. I remember my mom walking my brother and I to that Sears right up the road. Used to play with a kid named Billy up the street.

At one time there was an elementary school located on Greely and S. Main across the street from where we lived. It's since been torn down and HSPVA was built there.

HSPVA is at the corner of Greeley and West (not S.) Main.

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It was South Main! Now, I am unsure where the south picked up but right about there would be right. The appellation covered Main Street all the way out to Prince's Drive In, Playland Park and the race tracks.

I remember shopping at the old Sears with my Grandmother in the mid to late 1940's. She had a particular corset she liked that was only still carried by Sears. The section of the store was called Foundation Garments and had torso mannequins dolled up in same on high shelves above the merchandise. I mostly recall the constant "dings" sounding about the store, never figured those out.

It is a shame that more preservation of original buildings did not take place. Fort Worth is a delight with its downtown of restored, beautiful art deco and before architectural gems.

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I mostly recall the constant "dings" sounding about the store, never figured those out.

Now that you mention it, Foley's used to do the same thing. It sort of sounds like the same dings you hear when you're flying in an airplane.

Never did figure out what it had to do with department stores!

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Now that you mention it, Foley's used to do the same thing. It sort of sounds like the same dings you hear when you're flying in an airplane.

Never did figure out what it had to do with department stores!

At Sakowitz, the 'dings' were ways of paging people without disturbing the shoppers. Each store manager had a page. Three dings were security. Five dings meant the store was opening or closing.

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At Sakowitz, the 'dings' were ways of paging people without disturbing the shoppers. Each store manager had a page. Three dings were security. Five dings meant the store was opening or closing.

I thought the dings were the elevators dinging at each floor but it was a constant in all the downtown stores. I remember going to see grumpy old Santa at Sears and having our pics taken with him. All the kids were afraid of him.

Across the street on the west side of Main was the Delman Juvenile Shop which sold children's clothes and had one of those neat humongous x-ray machines where all us kids got bombarded countless times so that we could see our bones wiggle. The Delman Theater was next door. The lobby survived up until a few years ago. I saw Bob Dylan's "Don't Look Back" there in the 60's. I think there was a One's a Meal just south of the Delman.

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The Delman Theater was next door. The lobby survived up until a few years ago.

The exterior was covered with a dark greenish cultured marble. My coffee table's top strongly resembles it. :rolleyes:

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Guest danax
Wondering about the cladding:

I wonder if the original concrete? stucco? walls had deteriorated (Hurricane Carla, maybe?) and the metal cladding was a cheaper alternative to redoing them? I can't think of another building that has that kind of cladding as an architectural feature.

I wonder why they haven't done us a favor and removed that garbage and restored the original. Maybe the store's not profitable enough to warrant the investment. I'm guessing they hadn't really even considered it.

It will be interesting to see what happens to the store. The proposed Wheeler rail junction being so nearby should make that a hot spot for developers.

Looking into the crystal ball in Houston usually means seeing a wrecking ball.

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i don't *think* that location has a bright future, but little birdies can often be mistaken...

and yay for adapted tabletops! :D

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If it hasn't been mentioned before, Roulande's photographic studio was also in the Delman strip. The terrazzo "R" remained on the sidewalk for years.

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We used to live on the corner Greely and S. Main. I remember my mom walking my brother and I to that Sears right up the road. Used to play with a kid named Billy up the street.

At one time there was an elementary school located on Greely and S. Main across the street from where we lived. It's since been torn down and HSPVA was built there.

That was Montrose Elementary.

Which house did you live in? I lived on the top floor of the gray 4-plex at 4009 Greeley in the early 90's when it was falling apart - vastly improved today.

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That was Montrose Elementary.

Which house did you live in? I lived on the top floor of the gray 4-plex at 4009 Greeley in the early 90's when it was falling apart - vastly improved today.

It's still standing. It's a two story house located in the SW quadrant of the two intersecting streets. When we lived there from 1966-1969, the floors were separted into two apartments. We lived upstairs and a woman and her daughter lived downstairs. Historically it was the first house on the block and one of the oldest standing homes in the city of Houston. There was an article pertaining to that very house in Better Homes and Gardens during the late 1970's or early 1980's. That's when I was exposed to the actual history of the house.

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Wondering about the cladding:

I wonder if the original concrete? stucco? walls had deteriorated (Hurricane Carla, maybe?) and the metal cladding was a cheaper alternative to redoing them? I can't think of another building that has that kind of cladding as an architectural feature.

Yes, good store, that Sears. I don't live there anymore, but when I did live in the area it was a very good (reasonable price, good quality) source for car stuff, clothes, photo studio services, things like that.

Marty

Alot of buildings along Postoffice Street in Galveston has there facades concreted over in the 60's

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Wondering about the cladding:

I wonder if the original concrete? stucco? walls had deteriorated (Hurricane Carla, maybe?) and the metal cladding was a cheaper alternative to redoing them? I can't think of another building that has that kind of cladding as an architectural feature.

Marty

Covering original building facades was quite the fad in the 1950s-1960s. In downtown, the Lamar and San Jacinto hotels were refaced, the lower floors of the C&I building were cladded, as were 806 Main (Carter Building), the West Building, Stowers Building, Chronicle, Kirby Building, and some smaller ones as well. All in the name of modernization.

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Covering original building facades was quite the fad in the 1950s-1960s. In downtown, the Lamar and San Jacinto hotels were refaced, the lower floors of the C&I building were cladded, as were 806 Main (Carter Building), the West Building, Stowers Building, Chronicle, Kirby Building, and some smaller ones as well. All in the name of modernization.

Sure. I know about the Galveston buildings and several of the ones mentioned here. But I thought all of those were stucco, concrete, or masonry refacings. I can't think of one with the industrial-looking painted corrugated steel. Or am I missing something obvious? (certainly possible :-))

Marty

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I went into the South Main Sears a few weeks ago for some hardware needs.

It's close by if you work downtown.

I asked the manager of the store why they don't have a Sears sign facing South Main.

I said "Some people think you're closed up because there's no sign"

The response I received was "We have no entrance on the west side" and

"We'll look into it, thank you for your suggestion"

The inside of Sears looked nice and fully stocked.

The sales staff were friendly.

I guess with the train now occupying most of South Main at Wheeler,

they feel the cost of a sign is a waste of money.

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Which house did you live in? I lived on the top floor of the gray 4-plex at 4009 Greeley in the early 90's when it was falling apart - vastly improved today.

Okay, my Dad said that he thinks the address is 4102 Greeley. It's a 2 story house on the southwest corner of the intersection. There was no garage - only a carport, and it was gray when we lived there.

It was not Better Homes & Gardens, it was Houston Home & Garden, issued June 1975. The article headline is "the last good-bye," by Peter Heyne. The former owner of the house was Freddie Koenig (female) who lived in the Montrose area for nearly 75 years. She owned the house we lived in and the house next door (where she lived).

At the time the house was built, the area (now Montrose) was actually outside of Houston City Limits. During the 1890's, her father had bought 6 lots and built a charming home on what later became the corner of Greeley and W. Main. According to Mrs. Koenig, developers subdivided Montrose about 1910 and, her father's residence (the house I used to live in) was the first house in the Montrose addition.

Where the former elementary shool was located (now HSPVA) was lovely and popular pond with fish. Mrs. Koenig said that it was surrounded by gum trees and you could hear frogs croaking at night. She said someone later filled the pond with dirt to build the school.

Now I am understanding why our electric refrigerator had a true ice box on the bottom of it. I wish I could have enjoyed the historical values of that place when I lived there as a kid. We moved from there in 1969.

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Boy, this is going to drive me nuts. We may have to go eat at the Black Lab tonight so I can get my bearings. Forgive me, but I'm directionally dyslexic. :blush:

620 West Main @ Greeley - white house with dormers; large front porch; iron fence all around property. Backs up to where I used to live; owned by two charming gentlemen who used to have little aviaries in the kitchen windows. Built 1910.

House across the street is 2-story duplex, but address is West Main - could this be it?

4104 Greeley @ W. Main- Robin's Nest Bed & Breakfast . Had many a convivial glass of wine on the beautiful wrap-around porch. Built 1898.

HSPVA is on the corner of W. Main & Greeley, but the front door is on Stanford.

Remaining addresses in the 4100 block of Greeley, going toward Richmond, are 4108, built around 1915, 4110, built in the 30's and 4114, built around 1910 at the corner of Greeley & Colquitt.

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4104 Greeley @ W. Main- Robin's Nest Bed & Breakfast . Had many a convivial glass of wine on the beautiful wrap-around porch. Built 1898.

That's it, that's the house my family lived in from 1966 to 1969. That's the same picture as the one in the article I mentioned. I will scan the article this weekend when I'm back in Texas. I'm sure you'll enjoy reading it!

Wow, a bed and breakfast now. That doesn't surprise me because the floors were separted at one point. Thanks a bunch!

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That doesn't surprise me because the floors were separted at one point.

I never knew that! I always thought it was occupied as a single dwelling. Now the whole history clicks. *smacks head* :wacko: It also seemed larger than two-story to me because of the wonderful huge attic. My husband helped Robin bring some stuff down once - it could easily become loft bedrooms.

I would LOVE to see the article! I wish I could still afford to live in the area (regardless, I'm glad to be in Oak Forest! :) No yards my size in Montrose.) . By the time I was in a position to buy a house, they were way out of my budget. I still remember the collective "ARRRGGGHHH!!" that went around the neighborhood in 1990 when the afore-mentioned house on the corner of Greeley & Colquitt and garage apartment went for SIXTY-FIVE THOUSAND if I remember correctly because the estate wanted to sell it quickly! No one knew about it until a contract was already on it - sigh.

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I would LOVE to see the article! I wish I could still afford to live in the area (regardless, I'm glad to be in Oak Forest! :) No yards my size in Montrose.) . By the time I was in a position to buy a house, they were way out of my budget. I still remember the collective "ARRRGGGHHH!!" that went around the neighborhood in 1990 when the afore-mentioned house on the corner of Greeley & Colquitt and garage apartment went for SIXTY-FIVE THOUSAND if I remember correctly because the estate wanted to sell it quickly! No one knew about it until a contract was already on it - sigh.

Ouch! Between 1983 and 1994, I lived in several different places that were all within a few blocks of the intersection of Montrose and Alabama. I often wish I'd been in a position to buy a house there back then. I remember leasing a nice 2BR bungalow on Graustark in 1985 or so for only $550/month - the same place now would easily lease for 3-4 times that, and the property value has almost certainly undergone a similar increase.

I occasionally miss living in Montrose, but it's not too far away if I want to go do something there, and the lot my house is on now would probably have four townhouses on it in Montrose. :)

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Sure. I know about the Galveston buildings and several of the ones mentioned here. But I thought all of those were stucco, concrete, or masonry refacings. I can't think of one with the industrial-looking painted corrugated steel. Or am I missing something obvious? (certainly possible :-))

Marty

Then yesterday I drove by the Shell Research Center on Holcombe/Bellaire. Same kind of metal cladding. :closedeyes: Oh well.

Marty

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If it hasn't been mentioned before, Roulande's photographic studio was also in the Delman strip. The terrazzo "R" remained on the sidewalk for years.

Too bad the "R" is gone. Thanks for letting me know where my childhood family portrait was taken. Its a great black and white photo. :)

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I thought the dings were the elevators dinging at each floor but it was a constant in all the downtown stores. I remember going to see grumpy old Santa at Sears and having our pics taken with him. All the kids were afraid of him.

Across the street on the west side of Main was the Delman Juvenile Shop which sold children's clothes and had one of those neat humongous x-ray machines where all us kids got bombarded countless times so that we could see our bones wiggle. The Delman Theater was next door. The lobby survived up until a few years ago. I saw Bob Dylan's "Don't Look Back" there in the 60's. I think there was a One's a Meal just south of the Delman.

There was a One's a Meal there. I have a photo of the paint peeling off the sign for the Chinese restaurant that replaced it at that location, and "One's a Meal" is visible underneath.

Bailey photograph.

akClosing.jpeg

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Indeed. When I was about 11, my mother was rushed to hospital for a cholecystectomy (removal of gall bladder) and my Step-Father was torn. He was the ultimate Bogey fan and "The African Queen" had just opened at the Delman. He and I had never gone anywhere before. Didn't hate each other, just standoffish and not in communication much.

He opted for Humphrey and we went to the film, stopping by One's A Meal there after dinner, which we'd missed due to mother being gone. The movie was so great, I was thrilled Mom got sick.

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4104 Greeley @ W. Main- Robin's Nest Bed & Breakfast .

Found out why our address was 4102. Because the house was divided (at that time ) into 2 separate living quarters, the address for the lower section was 4104 Greeley and the address for the top section was 4102 Greeley.

I haven't scanned that article yet, but I will as soon as I get to my scanner.

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If it hasn't been mentioned before, Roulande's photographic studio was also in the Delman strip. The terrazzo "R" remained on the sidewalk for years.

A 1950-51 ad for Roulande's. The Delman's address was 4412 Main.

RoulandeAd-1951.jpg

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