Snapshot of History
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By Mike Avitt
It took me several attempts to find the construction of this building. Had there been a large advertisement in the newspaper, announcing the formal opening, I would have found it sooner. Instead, I found a paragraph deep in the July 4, 1918 Mt. Ayr Journal.
Brothers Douglas “Dug” and Fielding Sullivan, appear on the Ringgold County work scene in the early 1890s. Fielding became a harness man early and stayed in the business his entire career. Fielding occupied the building at 115 N. Taylor (currently Good Vibes Nutrition) from 1913 to 1934.
Dug also learned the harness trade but began to branch out about 1905. In 1906, he located in the building at 111 W. Monroe (Dean Jacobs Fur building) and in 1907, had an elevator installed to place buggies upstairs. By now, Dug was dealing in buggies and farm implements.
In 1912, Dug Sullivan and his son Glen had the agencies for Ford and Studebaker sales. They were having a great deal of success.
Dug used his success as a ford dealer to build a garage. He bought the lots where CGI now sits and hired H. U. Greenlee, of Bedford, to erect a brick garage 50’ x 100’. There are three buildings in Mount Ayr still standing today built by Mr. Greenlee. Those being the McDonnell Appliance building, Morgan Waldeier’s building, and that of Bill French.
In January of 1918, Sullivan & Son sold the new Ford Garage to Johnston Bros. of Grand River. This gave Dug the capital to build another garage, which he did, at 204 W. Madison.
Sullivan Auto Co. moved into the building in this week’s photo in early July 1918. The terra-cotta brick garage had a basement for auto repair and the main floor was for auto storage. Many car owners stored their autos in the wintertime. Again, Dug didn’t have the garage for long.
The garage was sold to Dorn Brothers in May 1921 and they didn’t have it very long, either.
In September 1921, State Architect, H. F. Liebbe, recommended to the Ringgold County Board of Supervisors that the courthouse be evacuated, due to possible collapse. A deal was made with Dorn Auto Co. to use the garage as temporary courthouse offices. Temporary turned into six years. All of the offices, except two, from the courthouse were moved to the Dorn Bros. garage in October 1921. The County Attorney and the R. C. Sheriff moved their offices to the upstairs of the Simpson Building, 112 S. Taylor.
After the new courthouse was built, the garage went back to being a repair garage, the Mount Ayr Service Station, complete with a filling station and tire shop. This was 1927.
Remember, Madison Street was Highway 3 until 1939 when it was re-routed to the south part of town. This hurt the Mount Ayr Service Station and it closed in 1940. Johnston Auto Supply moved in and, in 1943, Raymond and Rupert Johnston moved the business to 122 W. Madison. This left the door open for Roe Implement.
C. Z. Roe established Roe Implement in 1941 and moved to 204 W. Madison in December 1943. The firm occupied this location until 1976 when a new building was completed on Highway 2.