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Main Street - one century past

Two photos from a Bluffton era we never knew

There are times when small packages offer huge surprises. The top photo represents one of those times. The original photo is a snapshot measuring 2 by 3 inches. It is taken from a family album, but carries no explanation.

When enlarged the photo reveals much. Of course, you recognized the view is Main Street Bluffton taken from what today would be in front of Twisted Whisk Cafe looking north. Judging the Ford Model T on the left, which appears to resemble a 1915 model, that puts this photo in the mid-1910s.

Now, take a close look at the next photo – it’s the same view from a higher angle. It’s from the same era, but we think the bottom photo is older than the top one.

Here’s what this photo tell us:

If you think Bluffton parades are well attended today, look at this photo showing an early 1900s parade. The crowd is four people deep on one side and even more crowded on the other side.

We don’t k­­now the purpose or exact year of this parade, however here are some observations.

• First, we believe this photo shows Bluffton sometime between 1905 and 1910. The Western Ohio interurban rails on Main Street puts this after 1905. As you look at the buildings in the photo, very little has changed in 115 years.

• The building at 101 N. Main Street has an awning reading “Store.” The pole blocks the other word, but earlier this store front was a jewelry store. It may be a jewelry store at this time also.

• Notice the people watching the parade from the second story windows. Those were apartments. That building was relatively new when this photo was taken. We’ve seen a photo from the early 1890s showing three wooden-structured buildings where that brick building now stands.

• The float in the center of the photo reads “C. Hankish.” The family owned a store that we are guessing is the Bon – Ton Confectionary store. You can see the sign hanging out over the sidewalk. The earliest photo of Charles Hankish that we’ve seen is in a 1910 Bluffton Warriors football team photo. He is probably sitting in the float’s driver’s seat in this photo.

Bluffton residents today remember Charles “Hank” Hankish, Jr., his son, who was a member of the Bluffton school board for many years.

• There’s a Commercial Bank sign in the window of what today is John Wagner Nationwide Agency. That building still has its original front . It has since changed and we aren’t certain of the date the front was remodeled.

• Wording on the awning­­ in the next store reads “The Economy (store) – Home Furnishings.”

• What appears to be a popcorn machine is in the alley next to what is today Ryan DeMarco’s Edward Jones building. Interesting that even today, popcorn is sold in that alley during Bluffton festivals.

• We are unable to see a store identification on what is today Family Hardware. That building became Greding Hardware in 1912.

• Notice that people are standing on a second step in front of the buildings. Those step don’t’ exist today. The sidewalks of today are built high enough to completely remove those steps.

• We think the large wire crossing Main Street might be a telephone wire, as a telephone office was on the second floor of what is today the coffee shop. This photo appears to have been taken from the roof of that building.

We welcome other viewer observations.


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