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October 20, 2021

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Take an early-1950s walk up Main Street

Thanks to this photo by Paul Diller and a list of businesses by Richard Jordan

Compare the 1950-era photo with one taken today at the bottom of this story - 

Unlike many small towns, Bluffton's Main Street outlived the malls, survived an interstate bypass and today is home of over 40 small businesses located between the town hall and the public library.

Almost seven decades ago Paul Diller photographed this iconic Main Street scene. When this photo was taken Main Street was also U.S. 25, known as the Dixie Highway. (There existed no interstate highway bypassing town.)

Let’s walk toward the town hall and identify each of the businesses we pass.

Our information is from “A Good Place to Miss, Bluffton Stories 1900-1875.”

The list of businesses is from an interview with the late Richard Jordan and we've placed as many owners' names as Jordan shared with us. 

Here goes:
Oliver Beach Radio and TV
Hankish's Confectionary
Greding Hardware
Ed Waltermire's, mini-department store
Walter Gratz shoes
Swank's meat market, Harlan and Joe
Yours and Mine coffee shop,  Russ and Penny Downey
Basinger Furniture, Bill and Dorothy Edwards
   Second floor - Francis and Evan Basinger dentists

- Vine Street -

Clarence D. Diller Insurance
   Below - Bob Lewis barbershop 
A to Z Meats, Clarence and Mildred Brunn
Sidney's Drug store, Sidney and Armin Hauenstein, druggists
Roy Rayl clobber shop
Bill Augsburger's bar
Gerald "Tuffy" Swank's barber shop
Sam Stepleton's pool hall
Dillman's Newstand, Lena Dillman
An empty house
Stauffer Brother Pure Oil Station, Howard and Emmet Stauffer

Crossing the street at Elm, and walking toward the Presbyterian Church:

Town hall
Marshall and Bixel Appliances, Kimmel Marshall and Clayton Bixel
Bixel Motor Sales used car lot

Alley

Pine Restaurant, Leland and Ruth Sechler
B and B Bar, Red and Joe Birchnaugh
Montgomery’s Newsstand, Harold and Mary Montgomery
Geiger and Diller, Silas Diller, Wilford Geiger
Fett Hardware, Gilbert “Sparky” Fett
Community Market, Claude and Marcene Ream
   second floor - Neu-Art photo studio, Leland Gerber
Steiner and Huser men’s clothing, Edwin Steiner and Hiram Huser
The Lape Co., Ed Lape
Mumma Electric, Blanche Mumma
Elk and later Edelweiss Restaurant, Wilbur Neuenschwander
   Second floor - Masonic Lodge 
Presbyterian Church

A couple other things to note include the street lights. Today's lights copy the appearance of these originals.

Also notice that there is one step up to each of the businesses. Today the sidewalk level is raised and there are no steps into businesses.

The Icon welcomes additional comments from viewers.

This photo was taken by Paul Diller and is provided to the Icon by his son, Jim.