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BY MIKE AVITT
There was a building boom in Mount Ayr in the early 1890s and this building was one of the results of that boom. Built in 1891 for grocer Thomas Liggett, the building housed Liggett’s grocery store on the ground floor while the upstairs was occupied by Ellis C. Miller Post 96 of the G. A. R. and a dress-making shop.
Thomas Liggett’s brother, John Hall Liggett, joined the firm in 1892. John Hall retired in 1898 due to health concerns. Thomas traded his business and building in 1901 to G. F. Lesan for a farm.
J. F. Blauer was the next to own the business and then George Rains, in 1902. George moved to the Odd Fellows building in 1904 and the next occupants at 111 W. Monroe were Tom and Frank Harden. Douglas (Dug) Sullivan moved into the building in 1908 with his harness, buggy, and hardware business.
By 1912, Dug had secured the Ford and Studebaker dealership agencies. This was the beginning of the Ford dealership that would later be owned by the Johnston families and William Timby.
Dean Jacobs began buying fur in Mount Ayr in the fall 1919. First at Sloan’s Garage and then the J. A. Williams’ building. Williams sold his building in the fall of 1922 which forced Jacobs into his next location, 111 W. Monroe. He would remain here for more than 50 years.
The two-story building on the south side of the square caught fire in February 1933; Dean lost his inventory and the building lost its roof. Dean then bought the building from Emma P. Johnson and set out to rebuild. He hired Arthur H. Newman & Brothers to erect a three-story building complete with apartments (for Dean and his brother William), elevator, bathrooms, furnace room, auto garage, and offices.
The signs on the sides of the building were painted at this time. The original two-story building had very high ceilings so the walls needed to be extended only a short distance to accommodate three floors with moderate ceiling height. If one looks closely at the west wall, one can see where the original brick stops and the new brick starts. Also, in the reconstruction, the building was lengthened. Dean Jacobs was open for business in the fall of 1933.
Dean passed away in 1978 and Hank Smith eventually bought the building. Hank built an auto parts store at 107-109 W. Monroe in 1983 and I believe he used the old Jacobs building for storage. Today, the building is probably owned by the group that owns the NAPA Auto Parts franchise.