Friday, September 25, 2009

The March of Time

I remember the exact moment I saw my home town for what it truly has become. It was in the late 1990's, and I had been back in my home town for about five years after being gone for fifteen.  I was hosting a group of Up With People children, from all over the U.S. and the world. As we drove down Highway 30, which parallels Main Street, one of the kids commented that it looked like a ghost town.

I had always thought of Sutherland as a warm, inviting, vibrant community, which it is. What strangers see as they drive through, however, is an economically depressed business district full of empty storefronts.

That point was reinforced this past week as demolition began on the east end of Main Street.
I have spent an enjoyable few hours going through the Sutherland Centennial book which was compiled in 1991 to celebrate the centennial of our community, searching for the origins of this building, and imagining the hopes and dreams, dramas and comedies, successes and failures that have played out within the walls that now lie in rubble.
As nearly as I can tell, the structure on this corner was built as the Miller and Paden Garage sometime after the fire of 1912 that destroyed much of the downtown. I can't find any details of the actual construction, but pictures show an empty corner in 1912. The next reference is of the Miller and Paden Garage being purchased by E.J. Bruce in April 1915. It remained a garage of one kind or another until 1963 when the business closed and the building was sold to become a bowling alley.

The Lariat Lanes was in operation until the early 1970's. The building was then a second hand store for a number of years, then remained empty for a decade or so after which it was briefly an archery and sporting goods store. It has been empty since then, and even suffered some structural damage when part of the roof blew off and a back wall partially collapsed.
It's not a huge loss that the building has been torn down (although the two street trees the demolition company destroyed is almost criminal!), especially in the shape it was in. In the picture above, you can see another building that is also slated for demolition. The loss is that what was once a busy successful business district is now filled with empty buildings that are in nearly the same shape as this one.

Word is that the owner of the lots will rebuild and put another business in. Such is progress. Do you suppose the new construction will last nearly 100 years?

Thanks for stopping by. The coffee is always on.

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