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BY MIKE AVITT
State Highway 3 (now Highway 2) once came into Mt. Ayr from the east and turned north on what is now US 169. No. 3 then turned west on Monroe St. and continued halfway around the square, exiting town on Madison Street. That all changed in 1939 when the highway was routed through the south part of town. Of course, businesses started moving to the highway in 1939 and they still are.
This week’s photo shows the Standard Station owned by Day Shafer at 100 E. South Street (Highway 3), but Day didn’t build it. Sada Dowling had it built and it was first occupied by Alden Sackett and Harry Stamper under the name “Super Service Station.” The station opened in mid-December 1939. Day Shafer bought it in 1944, moved here in 1945, after having been previously located on the old highway route at 401 W. Madison.
Earl Dugan located to the new highway after having a filling station at 202 E. Monroe – old Highway 3. Mr. Dugan built new at 106 W. South Street and opened his Conoco Station in early October 1939. The building still stands and is the only building left that was built on the new route in 1939.
Barker & Cross moved their Sinclair business to 1002 W. South Street in September 1939. They had opened in 1936 at the intersection of what today is Madison Street and Henderson Street. In 1936, Henderson Street was where US 169 turned south and headed to Redding. The original station on South Street was a frame building and the brick building there today was built in 1947.
The last filling station we will look at on the new highway in 1939 was the most unusual. E. M. Rosenbaum opened a Phillips 66 Station at 300 W. South Street in November of 1939. He did not build new, but used an old house for his station. Also, Mr. Rosenbaum did not move a business here; this was a new business for him. Rosenbaum had operated a tire repair shop for eighteen years so he had some experience with autos. In February 1940, Mrs. Rosenbaum opened a lunchroom in the station and this was the beginning of many restaurants, including Ruth’s Steakhouse, that would occupy the old two-story house.
But this was not the first cafe on the new highway. Another business was built and opened in December 1939. That business was the Mount Ayr Livestock Market and Fay Bryant was the manager of the lunch room. Mr. Bryant had built the Sandwich Shop on the square (100 E Madison) in 1931 but his biggest claim to fame was his new skating rink which he built in 1941 on Highway 2. Now you know the rest of the story.
State Highway 3 was renamed Highway 2 on January 5, 1941. Primary No.16 was renamed US 169 in 1930. Businesses have been moving from the business district to the highway for over eighty years and they probably always will.