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If these walls could talk: Culver's Main Street (part 1 of a series)

February 8, 2011

The DX - Gafill station on Lake Shore and Main.

We begin a new series of regular (sometimes weekly -- sometimes unavoidably delayed due to space limitations) journeys through Culver’s past as we look at the lives of historic buildings in the Culver area: how far back they go, what (or whom) they’ve housed through the years, and what they are today.
For the first several weeks, we’ll take a stroll down Main Street in downtown Culver, starting at the north end and making our way south down the east side.

MAIN AND LAKE SHORE:
We’ll begin our walk at 103 Lake Shore Drive (the intersection of Main and Lake Shore), where we find, today, the Bike Barn as operated by Don Baker and his wife, Janet Halling.
From at least the year 1906 up to 1924, a house occupied the spot, owned alternately by Nathaniel Gandy, Dr. Oliver A. Rea (A Civil War veteran and Culver Military Academy’s first physician), and “Tuck” Swigart. At some point, the house was torn down and the area was a vacant lot. In 1938, the DX (Gafill) gas station opened there, providing the building which still stands there today. Donald Zechiel was manager and Claude Mikesell company representative. Dale Jones was the manager between 1943 and 1963, after which Anton W. “Tony” Cihak took the reins (perhaps some reader can fill in the blanks on the years after).
In 1990 and 1991, the building held the Max Surf Shop, followed by Jean Snyder’s Thru the Grape Vine craft store. For some years following, of course, the building sat empty, until The Bike Barn opened in 2009.

220 N. MAIN STREET
No, there is no 220 N. Main Street today. Or at least, its now a vacant lot. Many Culver residents will remember it as much more, and rightly so. It was once a prominent local business.
In 1906, the building on that lot was a bakery, and by 1914, Hand’s store occupied the space. By far the longest-running business there was the Crabb Furniture Store, which opened in 1913 under Lemuel Crabb, who ran it until 1952 (he passed away in 1961). Merle and Helen (Buffo) Crabb operated it from January, 1952, to 1967 (the store also served as a Western Union office in the early 1950s). In the 1970s, Kramer’s Antiques store operated there, and Culver’s florist and gift shop existed from the 1980 into the early 1990s. Photos of this building from readers would be welcomed by the editor.

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