1920s stores forced to relocate

By Rhonda Chalfant Contributing Columnist

April 1, 2014

When George R. Smith filed the original plat for Sedalia, he anticipated the city would grow from the Pacific Railroad tracks, and the first plat shows Sedalia lying north of the tracks. A mixture of stores and houses sprang up along East and West Main Street.

However, as Sedalia grew, Smith filed two more plats, both south of the tracks, and the business district began to grow not only along Main and Second Streets, but also along South Ohio, South Osage, and South Lamine Avenues.

By the late 1890s, the business district extended along South Ohio Avenue as far as Seventh Street, but the focus of the business district was near the intersection of Main Street and South Ohio Avenue. In 1920, several stores changed their locations and in doing so shifted the focus of retail trade to the intersection of Third Street and South Ohio Avenue.

On Feb. 22, 1920, the Sedalia Democrat reported that Chasnoff’s Department Store, then located at 116 S. Ohio Ave., had arranged to lease space in the Ilgenfritz Building at the northwest corner of Third and Ohio. According to the Democrat, Chasnoff’s decided to move its store because its business had increased and it needed a larger building.

Owner Dave Chasnoff told a reporter he intended to “make the new store one of the most modern and best equipped stores in central Missouri.” A wall separating the two existing businesses was to be removed, new fixtures added, and the basement remodeled for use as a sales area. Chasnoff claimed the move was necessary in order to maintain the store’s position as “Sedalia’s Greatest Store.”

The news of the move came as something of a surprise to the owners of Meuschke’s Dry Goods and Grammar’s Confectionery, the current occupants of the Ilgenfritz Building. Questions about the existing firms’ leases on the building arose, and “very lively” rumors circulated throughout the business community.

D. A. Grammar had maintained a candy store and soda fountain at 230 S. Ohio Ave., since 1916. He had taken over the space from the Woolworth’s Store and assumed that Woolworth’s lease until 1921 was included in his rental. Apparently it was not.

Harry W. and Arthur J. Meuschke had maintained their store at the Ilgenfritz Building for 34 years without a long-term lease.

Rumors continued to circulate about the stores’ futures. On March 16, 1920, the Democrat reported that the Meuschke Brothers had purchased property from the Antlers Hotel on the northeast corner of Third and South Ohio from John H. Bothwell. The transaction was handled by C.H. Bothwell, cashier of the Sedalia National Bank, since his uncle John Bothwell was in the Philippines on an extended visit.

The Meuschkes paid $100,000 ($1.6 million in today’s purchasing power) for the property that extended along South Ohio to the Katie Building at 219-223 South Ohio and along Third Street to the alley between South Ohio and South Lamine.

The sale did not affect the hotel, noted owner E. R. Matthews, because it had an entrance on Third Street. The sale did, however, affect the occupants of the hotel lobby, a barber shop, a shoe shine stand, and W. L. Sprecher’s cigar stand.

The Democrat pointed out that the renovation of the Ilgenfritz Building and of the Antlers Building would enable the corner of Third and Ohio to “present as striking and attractive an appearance as an of like size and importance to Sedalia in the middle west.”

The firms forced to relocate received little sympathy from the press, which simply noted they “will no doubt have to seek other locations.”