Metro-East News

Historical Society’s photo calendar makes the past come alive — in brilliant black and white

Long-ago Belleville businesses featured in 2019 calendar

The Belleville Historical Society's 2019 calendar features businesses that used to be on Main Street.
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The Belleville Historical Society's 2019 calendar features businesses that used to be on Main Street.

From the picture of the A.G. Horn Dry Goods Store at 207 E. Main St, which graces the cover, to the picture of Endres Motor Sales on the December page, the Belleville Historical Society 2019 calendar is filled with great old pictures and interesting histories of retail establishments that once graced Main Street.

Horn’s, which would be acquired by employee Peter Fellner and become Fellner’s, was a star attraction of the Belleville Street Fair of 1898 with fanciful two-story wooden pagodas in front.

Bob Brunkow, eminent local historian who provided the historical notes for the calendar, noted that businesses sprang up in Belleville almost as soon as it was established in 1814 by George Blair. Blair built a hotel and Joseph Kerr was said to have built a dry goods store that same year.

The calendar has period pictures of long gone businesses such as that of the widow Mrs. M.P. Chesley’s Millinery and Dress Shop at 121 W. Main St. Three women in what probably were stylish dresses in 1895 pose in the doorway of the store.

Each month features a picture of the building in the past and as it is now. Mrs. Chesley’s business now is a walkway between buildings but many remain in different incarnations.

The old Washington Theatre, 218 W. Main St., is restored to nearly the same appearance as in the 1915 photo.

2020 Wally Spiers
Wally Spiers

An interior shot of Pflugmacher’s Grocery, 1423 W. Main St., in 1937, shows hanging signs with food prices, such as pork and beans for 5 cents a can.

Five employees pose at the gas pumps of the Matysik Shell Service Station, 2004 W. Main St., during the 1950 grand reopening festivities after a renovation. It is almost a shocking sight in these days of self-service.

And the calendar could not be complete without a 1950 photo of the Dutch Girl Drive-In Restaurant at 2100 W. Main St.

Larry Betz, historical society president, said this is the sixth year for the calendar. It began in Belleville’s bicentennial year of 2014. It also has featured churches and saloons. Betz said they sold about three times as many saloon calendars as church calendars. Last year’s edition featured schools.

The calendars are $10 and are available at various area stores including Artiste de Fleurs, Circa Boutique, Eckert’s Country Store, Eckert Florist, Keil’s Antiques and Gifts, Local Lucy’s and Peace by Piece Boutique.

Or you can go online to the society’s website to buy one that will be mailed to you. It will cost an extra $2 for postage.

Wally Spiers: