The Jefferson Iowa News®


  Jefferson's Ever- Decreasing Business District - 1954 vs. 2004

We're all going to take a brief trip down memory lane. You'll have to jog your memories a bit, and put on your seat belts because this will be quite a trip.

The year is 1954, and you are in Jefferson. Why, you ask? Well, you are at Jefferson's centennial celebration, of course! In fact, you're standing in the middle of the square, facing west. Look at all those places open for business! And the street is absolutely packed full of cars. In fact, you were forced to drive around the block several times waiting for a parking space to open up! This is not caused by the celebration, though. It happens to you every weekend because you work all week and that is the only time they are open for you to shop.

Let's just name the stores you see from left to right on that block. You see ...

Potter Drug Store
Louie's Candy Kitchen
Home State Bank
Gately's Ben Franklin Store
Z and W Electric
W. G. Woodward Department Store
Bon-Ton Dress Shop
Downes Style Shop
Figenshaw Furniture
Seela Appliance and Hardware

How was that? Now let's turn and face north. What do we see?

Admiral Store
Charles Tavern
Shuey Rexall Drug Store
Gambles Store
Schoppe Cafe
Oppenheimer and Durlam
Jefferson State Bank
Square Deal Grocery
Lyon Sporting Goods
Sidney's Jewelry
Beusch's Clothing
Hick's Firestone Store

Looks like a pretty busy place, doesn't it? Let's check out the east side of the square now.

Joens Hardware
Howard Nash Motor Parts
Iowa Electric
Hird Hardware
Baller's Auto and Home
Cudahy Paint Store
Western Auto
Saba's Golden Krust Bakery
Harvey's Repair
Coast to Coast
Peacock Tavern

Wow. You can see five hardware stores on that side of the square alone! Pretty, amazing, huh?
People must have been doing a lot of building back then. What do you suppose we'll find when we look south?

J. C. Penney
Tucker Pharmacy
Fudge's Flower Shop
Phillips Barber Shop
Chamber of Commerce
Lincoln Hotel
Kendall's Recreation Parlor
Gilmore Cafe
Aldera's Variety
W. E. Thomas Jewelry
Ferguson Barber Shop
The Harding Shop
Brown Shoe Fit Company

Back in 1954, around the square alone, Jefferson boasted seven hardware stores, six clothing stores, four dime stores, three drug stores (two with soda fountains), with a grocery store and a popcorn vendor to boot!

Twenty-five years later, in 1979, fourteen of these businesses were still operating.

Twenty-five years after that, in 2004, only two remained - Figenshaw Furniture and Fudge's Flowers.

submitted by Rick Bland, city editor