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Walking Main Street on a summer day in the 1920s

A photo certainly deserving a thousand words; we've provided 500

Here’s a summer day in downtown Bluffton in the early-to-mid-1920s. As one century old, its older that the Bluffton High School Pirate mascot, joining our vernacular in 1929.

Several hints give us the decade.

First, there a vehicle with wooden spoke rims on the left side of the photo. It has a closed cab, indicating an early 1920s model. All of the other vehicles are open cabs, making them older models. If we could only see the year embedded in the license plates, that would nail the year.

There’s no stoplights at Main and Cherry. That dates this photo before 1928 when stoplights were added to the scene. On the right is Citizens National Bank, constructed in 1920, which zeros the time frame in the decade of the 1920s.

As you stand in the middle of the street looking toward Lima at your feet are the Western Ohio Railroad tracks. The line operated from 1906 to 1932.

On the left is Hauenstein’s Pharmacy – you know that because the word PHARMACY is painted in large capital letters on the building side.

Each of the buildings on the pharmacy side of the photo exist today with one exception, but it’s not visible in this photo. There’s no building housing Shannon Theatre. It arrived after World War II.

The bank exists today and is much expanded under a red brick transformation. Otherwise, on the bank side, all the way to today’s post office, there’s several changes of scenery. The large dark building directly south of the bank no longer exists. Neither do the wooden buildings that you can barely see in this photo.

And, although you can’t see it, a house sits on the lot where today’s post office is located.

Glance again at the pharmacy side of the street. The post office in this photo is in the building known today as Roots by Stratton’s.

It’s interesting to see that a fire hydrant in front of 101 N. Main St. existed when this photo was taken. There’s a hydrant there today, too.

Several street light transformations occurred since this scene existed. Today’s lights look similar to those in the photo. It’s retro-Bluffton.

One other observation are the steps on the 101 N. Main Street building. Today’s sidewalks and street are much higher; there are no steps leading into buildings.

The rails were never removed from Main Street. Being paved over, that also point to a street level higher today than in the 1920s.

If we could get a closer look at the style of dress of the woman crossing the street toward the bank, we would know that we are in the 1920s, no matter what other clues show in this photo.

The photographer, Mrs. Harley Lugibihl, as a women was a pioneer in this trade. This photo is from a post card series that she produced.

Without the availability of Adobe Photoshop, we marvel as how she removed the large obtrusive Main Street electric power poles providing power to the electric interurban railroad. Those poles and wire were nearly everywhere on Main Street – but they aren’t in this photo.


1 Comment

Dec 15, 2022

Thank you! This is a great walk on Old Main. Love it.

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