A History of Downtown Willow Springs Part 2
Wed, 10/12/2022 - 2:23pm admin
Continuing where we left off last week, we come to Second Street in Downtown Willow Springs, also known as Main Street; it was formerly a part of Highways 60/63 before Willow Springs was bypassed. We will only cover one side of Main Street this time, which is an incomplete listing. The nice thing about taking on an impossible task like this is I will hear from folks who know all about one of our old buildings. I'll keep a list and share it in the future.
So indulge me for a moment while we take a look west as we turn left onto Main Street. The corner of the old Voorhees Building once housed the first telephone office in Willow Springs on its second floor. Like most of the first telephone switchboards in this area, it suffered a fire that did not destroy the building. On the first floor, previous businesses at 119 West Center included Frazee's Barbershop, Ma Green's Lunchroom, and the Corner Bar and Grill in recent years.
Continuing to 200 West Main, where Shelter Insurance is today, was Wilbank's Grocery.
Let's turn around and go back east to where we started at Center and Main Streets.
Immediately to the right or east of Center Street at 100 East Main is the old W.A. McClellan Hardware store building mentioned in our last article. It is the oldest commercial building in Willow Springs, and its fate is uncertain. In addition to the main entrance to the front of the building on Center Street is an entrance on the side that led into the basement where a bowling alley existed in the 1940s. My uncle Robert Gauldin had a job there in his teens setting up the wooden "duck pins" by hand. After the building's heyday as a hardware and implement store under the name Protiva-Horak Hardware, it served other businesses for decades. C.L. and Bobbie Hedrick bought the building in 1946. It was rented over the years and used as an insurance office, coffee shop, several restaurants, a donut shop, a roofing company, and dry cleaners. Dozens of businesses thrived or failed at this location. The entire frontage of Center and Main Streets is presently barricaded, and sidewalks around this building cannot be used.
At the east end of the "Buggies and Wagons" building, at 108 East Main, Joe's Barbershop, started in 1973 by Joe Martin, is still in business.
A little further down at 112 East Main, older citizens will remember Faye and Carlyle Walker ran a Sears retail and catalog store. The building served as Hedrick's Grocery Store, the Holloway Real Estate Office, and an antique store years prior.
At 114 East Main, we find one of the older buildings on the street built in the early 1890s and is believed to have been used as a city jail. In the early 1920s, the Bon Ton Bakery, run by Albert Wydick, was popular. Some records indicate that the Bon Ton also operated on Third Street. The central telephone office found a home here for years after leaving the Voohers building. It served as Willow Springs City Hall, the State License Office, the Willow Springs Police Department, Howell-Oregon Ambulance and Rural Fire Protection Office. Finally, Lee-Marie Gifts and Decor and now Vintage Floral.
Coming Up Roses at 118 East Main, in the process of leaving Willow Springs, was formerly Wake Gun and Pawn. Before that, in 1982, Randy's Gun and Pawn, Hazel's Gift Shop, Aid Hardware, and a Stars and Stripes Shop a few years earlier.
As we continue east, built in 1928, Ed Ogden's Grocery Store was located at 120 East Main, Padgett Hardware, run in my lifetime by the Ottinger's, and a long ago a lunchroom operated by Mr. and Mrs. Blue. Today we find E-Z Flooring at this location.
122 East Main has been unoccupied for several years, and the Hankins Mercantile Store was once located here.
Anchoring the end of the 100 Block of East Main is The Dew Family Originals, a tattoo and piercing shop, formerly a tattoo shop owned by Mike McHenry.
In the mid-1930s, the intersection of Front Street and Center lost its prominence, and the center of town moved east a block to Harris and Main, today's four-way stop. A wooden and metal railroad overpass gave way in the mid-1930s to a concrete overpass known locally as the viaduct, which is still in use today, interconnecting the town to Highways 76 and 137.
Crossing Harris Street and continuing east on Main Street, we find the Star Opera House at 202 East Main, built by Frank Sass. The building was dedicated in April 1891. In 1906 the West Plains Quill reported the building was occupied on the first floor by the Bank of Willow Springs, a drug store was on the second, and the third floor was a large open space with a stage and seating for up to 600 people. Motion pictures were first shown here until 1917 when the Star Theatre opened across the street. On the first floor, Deffenback Hat Shop found a home. My memories of the 1960s are of Bill Duff's Western Auto Store. I found it interesting a local paper in 1906 reported that Frank Sass was pouring concrete sidewalks on both sides of his "brick block."
206 East Main will be familiar to residents as Arlene's Portraits. Early in its life, the building housed Lovan Brothers Store.
At 210 East Main, Pizza America opened its doors in 2003. Before that, it was Bill's Dollar Store. In 1982 we find Duff Furniture, and a decade earlier, this part of West Main was recovering from a devastating fire that burned every building on that side of the street, east to the end of the block.
Presently The Stitchin' Post is located at 212 East Main. I need to research this address some more.
Before the fire in 1920, the Reed, Harlin Wholesale Grocery Company was at 214 East Main. I think Pizza America has expanded into this building.
A building was built in 1920 at 218 East Main and remodeled in 1975. It has been a Humpty Dumpty Discount store owed by Pig Paul's Pork Plantation, Troy Grogan Plumbing, Al Gullian's Al's Photo Finishing, Toby D's Hair Salon, and Broadway Dance Studio.
Another building built in 1920 and remodeled after the fire in 1971 was once the McClellan Hardware Store. Locals know the location as the Curtis Department Store, operated by Edgar Curtis, then Bob Curtis, and last by Bob's daughter and son-in-law. Following their departure, the building sat empty for several years, and the roof began leaking. Though the building had been inspected in 2019, on March 1, 2021, the Curtis building collapsed into its basement. The building was unoccupied and did not significantly damage the buildings next to it. There was concern that a shared wall would collapse and endanger occupants living next door to the west. There had been a concern before the collapse that foggy windows indicated moisture inside the building; the building owner had plans to tear it down later in the year. Gravity beat him to the job. The debris from the building was removed, and a hole now occupies this address. Next to it, the apartment building still stands.
At the end of the block at 228 East Main, the side of the H&R Block business faces Main Street. The original building built in 1900 was Sullinger's Store in 1920. In 1982 B&B Liquidations opened a business there.
Next, we will look at the other side of Main Street in downtown Willow Springs.