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By Mike Avitt
This is the only photo I have of three business buildings that burned in 1927.
The 1927 fire is historic in that it was the last fire on the Mount Ayr square to involve wood-frame buildings. And this fire changed the landscape of the Mount Ayr square.
Fire was discovered in the Perry Dress Club in the early morning hours of September 22, 1927.
The Perry Dress Club, a clothing, laundry, and dry cleaning business, was located at 109 S. Fillmore and was owned by Mr. and Mr. Earl Perry. The building was a one-story wood structure that served as a drug store for John Horne (Barney’s father) from 1875 to 1913.
The Perrys, who opened their business here in September 1921, lost their building and contents in this fire.
The fire quickly spread south to the building at 111 S. Fillmore, occupied by W. N. Finch & Son as a produce house. This was an old two-story, wood-frame structure used as the Masonic Lodge until 1920. The Masons moved to 121 S. Fillmore in 1920 and are still there today.
The Finch & Son building was a total loss.
Across the alley to the south was E. M. Rosenbaum’s tire repair shop at 113 S. Fillmore. The wood-frame building was damaged, but not destroyed. Still, one week later, Rosenbaum decided to raze the shop and build anew. The building at 113 S. Fillmore was constructed for Rosenbaum and was last occupied by Tyler Insurance.
The fire also spread north from the Perry Dress Club to 107 S. Fillmore, a two-story wood building erected in 1902 by R. M. Bowlby.
Although the building was built of wood, it was clad in sheets of “galvanized iron.” The ground floor was unoccupied. The upstairs housed the office of Marion Stephens for his Chevrolet agency and the office of Doctor J. G. Garton.
The steel sheets slowed the destruction of the fire, but fire fighting equipment was not up to the task and the building, owned by Frank Wilson, was lost.
After that fire, there were only two wood buildings left on the square; 115 S. Fillmore and 103 W. Monroe.
In 1946, Dr. T. I. Moffet razed the old doctor’s office at 115 S. Fillmore and built a tile block building. That building is the Abstract & Title Company of Ringgold County today. 103 W. Monroe (rAYR Market) has been reconstructed so many times, I doubt there is much wood left in that building.
The Perry Dress Club continued in business by erecting the building at 105 W. Monroe and opening on December 31, 1927.
Mr. and Mrs. George Farmer bought the business on January 1, 1947. Dick and Theanna Simpson bought the building in April 1963 and Theanna opened her beauty salon immediately. Dick opened his barber shop one year later.
Billie Finch moved his produce and egg business to the building across the street east of the Hawkeye Lumber Co. He would move to 115 E. Madison in the 1930s where he would finish his career in 1961.
Frank Wilson quickly erected a one-story brick building at 107 S. Fillmore and the first occupant was A & P Market in January 1928. They stayed eleven months.
Frank had a building constructed at 109-111 S. Fillmore in 1931 with the Mount Ayr Post Office moving into 111 S. Fillmore in January 1932. Mount Ayr Cleaners (Mike and Brady Beaman) moved into 109 S. Fillmore soon after.