If these walls could talk: 102 S. Main Street
We continue our series of semi-regular journeys through Culver’s past as we look at the lives of historic buildings in the Culver area. For now, we're strolling down Main Street's east side in downtown Culver, making our way south to the southeast intersection of Main and Jefferson Streets, 102 S. Main, the site of today’s Culver Academies Museum & Gift Shop, which opened there in October, 2009.
The commercial history of the location, from the earliest records, indicates an involvement from merchant Jacob Saine, who was associated even into the late 1800s with a grocery store, J.R. Saine & Sons, at the site. Culver’s Masonic lodge occupied at least part of the upstairs of that building, starting in November of 1897 and into the early 1900s (it made its home later, as discussed in an earlier column here, upstairs in the next block north).
Saine gained unfortunate infamy as the only local casualty of the first of two violent bank holdups during this period. On December 20, 1920, gunshots rang through downtown Culver when bandits held up the State Exchange Bank, just across the street from Saine’s. As discussed previously in this column, several local men exchanged fire with the robbers, and a bullet hit Saine -- shooting from his grocery -- who later died of his wounds. So great was the outrage in the area over his death that the robbers’ trial was moved to Warsaw, where they were defended by the famous “Scopes monkey trial” attorney, Clarence Darrow.
In 1932, the Saine & Sons building, described by the Culver Citizen at the time as “an old landmark,” was razed and a Linco Petroleum Company service station erected, the start of a long career of the site playing host to a gasoline station.
Initially, Howard Mikesell managed the station, followed in April, 1933, by Burt Lumbaugh, Gordon Cultice, who would go on to many years’ career in local service stations, took over on February 1, 1934. By 1940, the station bore the Marathon logo, which stayed there for more than 40 years. Bob Sanders (starting in 1952), Kenneth Tasch (1956 to `65), Bob Measles into the early 1980s (it was “Bob’s Marathon” for many years prior to his death in 1983), and doubtless others unintentionally overlooked here.
In the 1990s, as part of a cleanup of several deteriorating properties in Culver, the old Marathon station (as generations of Culverites knew it) became a vacant lot. By 2000, the ever-indefatigable Bob Tanguy and wife Mary had constructed a brand-new building there and soon opened Mary’s Shoppe, which for the next seven years offered fine gifts in a boutique-style environment. Tanguy Real Estate operated from the back office, followed by Collins & Company in 2006. Collins stayed on there for two years, even after Mary’s closed its doors in `07, before Collins erected its large brick structure a few blocks south. The Academies museum, of course, operates in the same building today.
Next time we’ll continue south down Main Street. As a brief update to the last column, several readers have written or called with further information, corrections, or just good memories or anecdotes about the three buildings south of today’s Gladie’s Deli. Judi Burns notes that the three were intended to, officially, be separate buildings, each with its own separate exterior-type wall (rather than one long building sharing interior dividing walls), partly for fire safety. A few readers pointed out a glaring omission which one reader is helping me research in more depth, in order to present a more thorough history of it at a later date. For now, I apologize for leaving out Snyder’s Cafe, which operated at least in the 1930s on the southernmost corner building, as more than one person pointed out. I knew it had been there, and even made a mental note to add it to the list, but somehow it escaped mention! More on that soon. Until then, thanks for all the feedback -- it shows this column is being read and appreciated, and what more can we ask?