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BY MIKE AVITT
The two-story brick building on the south side of the alley was torn down about 1976. It sat at 112 S. Taylor Street on the east side of the Mt. Ayr square.
The building was built for William A. Simpson in 1898. Simpson, the father of Marie Simpson, had moved his general store business to 101 W. Monroe (the Princess Theatre building) in 1891, although I don’t know his previous location. He contracted Lincoln Bent to erect the building and Mr. Bent started the construction, but George Smithson, a well-known local mason, finished it. There seems to be a delay in finishing the interior as Simpson didn’t move in until July 1899.
Mr. Simpson operated his dry goods and grocery business here until 1931 when he passed away. Marion Stephens, a former Ringgold County Sheriff, bought the building and opened a restaurant. A year earlier, Stephens had sold his Chevrolet dealership to Eugene Carr.
M. L. Spurrier bought the cafe in 1933. In June 1945, Mick Snedeker bought the restaurant, but he had it only three months. Veronica Pine and Kenneth Markley bought the business in October 1945. Only a month later, Veronica bought out her partner and called the restaurant, “Pine’s Cafe.”
In August 1946, Pine sold her cafe to Glen Hutchinson and Leo Hacker. In October 1948, Hacker left his partner, teamed up with O. B. “Jack” Hutchinson, and soon opened a pool hall called, Q Club at 122 S. Taylor.
An advertisement in the April 26, 1951 Mount Ayr Record-News states Lucille Trower and family have taken over the Midway Cafe. The last mention I see of Midway Cafe is in July 1952. I believe Midway Cafe is also a name Spurrier used.
I was able to find a May 1954 advertisement for the rental apartments upstairs at the Simpson building. In the early days, the upstairs was occupied by dentists, lawyers, doctors, insurance agents, and real estate agents.
On October 22, 1968, the Simpson building opened as the Ringgold County Democrat Headquarters. This is the last time I can find occupancy of the building built in 1898.
In 1972-73 I spent a great deal of time exploring vacant buildings and houses in Mt. Ayr. Some people call that tresspassing. But I remember clearly the dilapidated condition of the Simpson building. The basement was full of mud and the roof partially collapsed. so much plaster and lath had fallen from the first floor ceiling that I chose not to rummage around the smelly mess. The exterior stairway on the north side, next to the alley, was still in place.
I couldn’t find when the building was torn down but I’m sure it was 1976 or 1977.