MOUNT VERNON — The Knox County Historical Society will reopen after its winter break on Wednesday evening with a program featuring highlights from the history of Mount Vernon’s corner of South Main and West Gambier streets.
The illustrated program will be presented by Jim Gibson, director of the Knox County Historical Society Museum. The meeting will begin at 7:30 p.m. at the museum, 875 Harcourt Road.
Numerous businesses and residents have called 201 S. Main St. their home since the days of Gilman Bryant’s General Store, where Mount Vernon’s first merchant and postmaster did business with residents and traded with many of the Native Americans who lived in the area during the early 1800s. Bryant’s reputation for fair dealings brought customers here from considerable distances to buy, trade, swap stories and, after 1809, pick up their mail at his popular store on South Main Street.
Later dry goods stores were operated on the corner by H.C. Swetland, W. Dudley Browning and A.A. Dowds, later Dowds and Rudin. The Mount Vernon Candy Kitchen opened there around 1911, soon followed by several photographers, florists, tailors, Realtors, barbers, detectives, and dentists, including the Union Painless Dentists, whose advertising in 1914 promised quality dentures at bargain prices.
The 1929 demolition of the earlier structure and construction of the new S.S. Kresge 5 & 10c Store brought new business downtown and new tenants to the upper floor. More recently, the corner had been the home of Heckler’s Pharmacy, the Ben Franklin Store, Memories on Main, Focus Studio and Bodi ’N Balance. But while the October 2010 fire destroyed the historic building, the space will live on in a new use by the Mount Vernon Nazarene University.
Audience members will be invited to share their memories of the location.
Regular museum hours are Wednesday evenings from 6 to 8, and Thursday through Sunday from 2 to 4 p.m. Other upcoming monthly programs at the historical society include “Women of the Civil War” on April 6, “Woodward Opera House History” on May 4 and “Early Photographers of Knox County” on June 1.
The monthly meetings are free and open to the public, and all people interested in local history are invited to attend. For more information call the museum at 393-5247.
Published on March 1, 2011