Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Jefferson Hotel

Posted By on Thu, Dec 10, 2009 at 4:03 PM

Main & Washington - 1940s
  • Main & Washington - 1940s
Bad drivers, it seems, have always been a problem in our city. And in the 1940s, an anonymous photographer documenting an automobile accident captured an image of a downtown street scene that no longer exists.

The old photo shows the intersection of Main and Washington, looking southeast towards the Sterick Building looming in the distance. The three-story brick building on the corner, with the Canada Dry Spur sign ("It's a finer Cola" — wow, what a lame slogan!) painted on the side, is the Jefferson Hotel.

Constructed in 1915, the hotel occupied the second and third floors of the building, and originally offered patrons a range of rooms costing from 50 cents to $1.50 a night. The proprietor, a fellow named Abraham Alperin, operated a clothing store on the ground floor and lived in the rear of his shop.

When this photo was taken in the late 1940s (judging from the cars — the banged-up station wagon appears to be a 1946 Ford), the hotel was still in business, but Alperin's shop had been converted to the People's Store, a general merchandise establishment whose signs proclaimed, "Where Your Dollar Buys More."

Walking south (to the right in the photo), a shopper would then stroll past a block lined with family-owned businesses: Tucker's Dry Goods, O.K. Capers Hardware Store, Kriger's Dry Goods, Laguzzi & Barrasso Jewelers, Nu-Way Shoes, and Storch Shoes, before encountering the curiously named Joy Alley.

If you've read this far, I know what you're thinking, but years ago it really wasn't unusual to have competing businesses — whether dry goods or shoes — standing side by side on the same block.

Today, not a single building on this corner has survived. In fact, the entire intersection of Main and Washington was obliterated in the 1960s when the Civic Center Plaza was constructed. Washington Avenue now begins at Second Street, and a Main Street Trolley station stands just about where these two policemen directed traffic around a wrecked Ford more than half a century ago.

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