Then & Now

Loudon building, Broadway, Fairfield, Iowa.

Looking East on Broadway Ave., Then and Now

Then: Looking east on Broadway Avenue from the Louden Depot in 1929, we see a long row of automobiles belonging to the employees of the busy Louden Machinery Company, at left, and of other factories nearby. The Louden Company bought four lots here at 605-607 W. Broadway in 1892 and built their 6,000-square-foot factory here that year.

Now: In 2011 the neighborhood is noticeably quieter; the Louden building at left now houses studios, offices, apartments, and Vivo’s Restaurant, advertised by the new portico. At the same time, the house at 602 W. Broadway, right, has lost its portico and flanking trees, but its gabled roofline and distinctive oriel window remain quite recognizeable. The old house at 604 W. Broadway at far right has given way to a parking lot which has made Broadway quieter still.

Beautiful houses on B Street 200 block.

Both 200 E. Washington (left) and 203 S. B St. (right) are on Lot No. 4 in Block No. 21, Old Plat, and Thomas D. Evans gave the whole lot to the Methodist Society in 1844 for them to build their church on. Finally finished in 1850, the brick Methodist “Old Zion” Church stood at the southeast corner of Washington St. and B St. (now 200 East Washington). After the Civil War the Methodist Society split into two factions, with some of the members leaving “Old Zion” for the Harmony Church, which stood near the courthouse.

“Old Zion” on S. B Street was demolished in 1876. The Fairfield Ledger of Aug. 17, 1876, says (p. 3, col. 4): “With the demolition of the Old Zion and Presbyterian Churches will disappear two of Fairfield’s old land marks….They were the two oldest churches in the city, and the first brick ones erected.”

The two factions later reunited under Rev. Henry Wing, who then built a large wooden Methodist church in 1877 on the northeast corner of Briggs and Court Sts., where the brick Methodist Church is now.

Scroll “Older Posts” on facebook, April 28-May 2, 2011 for more conversation.

Before and After Fairfield Iowa street, West Broadway.

Then and Now: West Broadway Avenue, looking east toward the Square from North 4th Street.

Above: In this photograph from ca. 1907, the avenue is unpaved, and piles of horse-dung appear to have been carefully deposited down the center and north side of the road, but the fire hydrant, sidewalks, lawns, regal trees and splendid residences leave no doubt that West Broadway is a civilized neighborhood. At far right is an ornate residence at No. 308 West Broadway, which Oscar Herring says “was built by Marshall S. Crawford in 1873 and rebuilt in 1880 by J. C. Thorne and after its partial destruction by fire in 1905 again rebuilt.” He adds that the property was “conveyed to Parsons college on the annuity plan” by a daughter-in-law of J. C. Thorne. (Oscar Herring, “The Homes of Fairfield,” Fairfield Ledger, Jan. 6, 1933, p. 4.) J. C. Thorne sold dry-goods on the north side of the square at 59 East Broadway from 1880 for more than thirty-one years.

Below: In 2011, the avenue is paved; all evidence of the horse has given way to the ubiquitous automobile; a stop-sign now appears on the northeast corner, from which the fire hydrant has migrated to the southeast corner; the exuberantly turreted Queen Anne at 308 W. Broadway is now a parking lot, while the old corner house at 312 West Broadway (out of the picture to the right) has been replaced by the yellow bungalow at 310 with another parking lot at the corner — but the trees have grown even more magnificent; the orderly sidewalks and lawns remain, and most of the rest of the houses down the row east from 306 W. Broadway on are virtually unchanged from a century ago.

South Main Street, Fairfield, IA near Madison Ave.

Then and Now: South Main Street, looking north across Madison Avenue

Above: In this peaceful view taken ca. 1910, South Main Street is as yet unpaved, but is flanked by stately houses and a lush double-row of trees.

Below: Even with pavement, street signs, and traffic lights, the tree-lined view up South Main is still recognizable in the winter of 2010-11. Though the old house at 402 S. Main, second from the left, has been replaced, most of the residences of a century ago yet remain.

The two houses in the foreground at left and right were both erected around 1895 by brothers-in-law and business partners. 406 S. Main, at left, was built by Edmund Hunt, who married Ward Lamson’s daughter Elizabeth M., and 405 S. Main, at right, by Elmer Addison Howard, who had joined Hunt’s shoe business in April 1883 when he married Elizabeth’s sister Mary.

Hunt & Howard first sold shoes on the south side of the square in the Wilson Block, but moved to the north side when they purchased Roth’s shoe business at 57 W. Broadway in 1889. Three years later they built the lovely turreted structure at 51 East Broadway which now houses the Guiding Light School of Massage and Healthy Inspirations.

Hunt & Howard’s father-in-law Ward Lamson lived just south across Madison from E. A. Howard, out of the picture to the right, in the old Caleb Baldwin house at 501 S. Main, which Ward’s son Ralph Waldo Lamson inherited and inhabited until his passing in 1938. Here is a picture of Ward and Ralph Lamson’s house.

Fairfield Iowa flowers around square, and Mohan's restaurant.

Northwest corner of the Square in Fairfield Iowa
Then: circa 1915
Now: 2008 during construction of the flower beds around the square

Home on East Burlington Avenue in Fairfield, IA.

Then and Now: 505 East Burlington Ave. during the 1930s (above), and as it stands today… photo taken January 2011 (below). Thank you to Barbara Beal for permission to use the 1930s photograph!

118-122 North Main Street, Fairfield, IA.

Above: Standing proudly at Main and Briggs Streets’ southwest corner in 1909 was Fairfield’s Grand Opera House, built in 1890 by J. E. Roth, J. S. Richardson, J. S. McKemey, and E. A. Howard. Ornately designed by Burlington architect Charles A. Dunham, it was Fairfield’s second theater, built seven years after the Odd Fellows had purchased Semon’s old opera house at 50-52 W. Burlington and converted it into their lodge. Among the Grand Opera building’s other tenants in 1909 were Jeff Griffith and Henry Pierson’s plumbing company at 118 North Main Street (shown at left, above), Joe Buckley’s cigar store, and Walt Whitman’s barber shop. Under its final owner Louis Thoma, the Grand Opera House was already transitioning from acting companies to silent films when an electrical fire destroyed it on May 18, 1909. Select here for a brief biography of Louis Thoma. The following year saw the birth of Fairfield’s third theater: the Orpheum, now known as The Co-Ed, at 119-123 W. Broadway.

Below: Rebuilt in 1914 by Charles L. Cox, the new building at 118-122 N. Main hosted the Fairfield Motor Co., the Brown Motor Co., and Easton Motor Sales in succession through the 1920s, followed by the Reliable Department Store and Leach Hatcheries in the 1930s, Benteco Supermarket in the 1940s, Benner Food Store and Brainard Pontiac in the 1950s, Wulff’s Furniture in the 1960s, Gibson’s Discount Center department store and the Big ‘o’ Factory Outlet in the early 1970s, and the Tribune Printing Co. from 1980 to the present.


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