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Taylor (Still) Greene recently purchased this building and asked me about its history. Let’s get started.
This building was erected in 1938 by Dr. J. W. Hill. Dr. Hill first came to Ringgold County in 1915 when he opened an office in Ellston. In 1923, Dr. and Mrs. Hill came to Mount Ayr to establish their residence and continue in the practice of medicine. In 1938, Dr. Hill was located in a building where the post office is today. All of the businesses on that corner moved due to the upcoming construction of the Mount Ayr Post Office.
Dr. J. W. Hill built his new office at 102 N. Fillmore. This new office housed Dr. Hill’s office and the dentist office of Dr. Raymond Leazenby. Dr. Leazenby was the brother-in-law of dentist Dr. C. C. Lawhead and had been in practice with Dr. Lawhead for the previous seven years. Leazenby’s office, located in the north rooms on the ground floor, opened in late August 1938. Hill’s office opened soon after in the south rooms. The upstairs apartments were occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Billie Finch.
Dr. Hill died in December 1961 and the Ringgold Mutual Insurance Association moved into the building in October 1962. I believe John Shafer was the secretary of this firm.
My information gets a little thin now as most of it comes from advertisements and phone books. Shafer Insurance Agency moved to 100 E. Madison in 1970. Ringgold Mutual Insurance Association stayed at 102 N. Fillmore because Bob Erickson joined that firm at that address in 1973.
In August 1984, RMIA moved its office in with Shafer Insurance Agency at 100 E. Madison. I believe the next occupant at 102 N. Fillmore was the law firm of Wilson, Bonnett, & Christensen. I also believe optometrist Dr. Larry Hicks came to this location in the 1990s. Dr. Hicks had an office here for a very long time. I think he stayed here until about 2014. The next owner was Dr. Thompson who opened Family Vision Center.
The upstairs remained an apartment since the building was constructed. A 1973 phone book lists Pearl Johnson as the occupant and Vera Haley was a long-time renter just recently.
In Mount Ayr’s early days, jewelers were often licensed opticians. Also, optometrists from out of town would occupy the Mount Ayr Hotel lobby for a weekend and test eyesight, fill prescriptions, and treat eye disorders.
Dr. J. W. Hill had a son and two daughters. The son died as a teenager in an automobile accident and one of the daughters married John Freeland, son of Mount Ayr clothier Montgomery Edward Freeland.