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The Walters Building--434-436 N. Market Street in Mt. Carmel, IL

The Walters Building 534 and 536 Market Street bit the dust (or made a lot of dust) this week in Mt. Carmel. Condemned after bricks from the north side began to fall onto the sidewalk on 5th street and the upper story fell into the first story in the rear portion of the 536 building, Guisewite Excavating demolished the building and hauled away many truckloads of debris as well as filling in the site.

The familiar iron sign at the front of the building announced that it was built by Walters but there is not date. We do know that as early as 1908 Parkinson Quality Foods was located in both sides of the building (or first on one side and then the other). Previously the wooden buildings on the south side were torn down to make way for the new brick accounting office. Thus ends the history of businesses owned by the Walters Brothers and Walters and Sons in Mt. Carmel. Walters Furniture had their own factory for building pieces of furniture and caskets. The casket maker was usually the funeral director in any town. Early on people held their wake and funeral service in their own home until the business of funeral directors built their own buildings and offered this service outside the home or church. My own family home in Allendale had been the Rhein/King Funeral Home for many years. But I digress.

For 534 N. Market there are records of Oasis tavern in that building from 1948 to 1965 or longer. Food for Thought health food store occupied that space from 1980 to 2008 when it moved to the 400 block. Gilbert Wirth also lists the following businesses in this location: Walters Furniture Factory in 1869, Wabash Furniture Exchange in 1930, Hudson Store, Reinard Wallpaper, Fowler Drugs, Mercer and Donald’s Store, Stein Tavern, Reister and Bedell Tavern, Bunting Tavern, Cleary Cleaners, Reister Cleaners, Stern? Cleaners, Fowler Dry Goods, Mercer & Donald’s Dry Goods, Wagon Wheel package liquor and Sach’s of Market.

There are records that at 536 N. Market in 1948 Mt. Carmel Hotel/apartments and Jane’s Beauty Shop were in the building, probably on the upper floor. Mt. Carmel Café was also listed in the building in 1948. Word of mouth is that the upstairs was a rooming house or apartments for many oil workers during the oil boom. In 1950 through 1953 the city directory shows the building was vacant. In 1965 through the 1970s S & S Auto Supply was in the building. In 1988, Fruit of the Vine used clothing ministry was located there. Until recently the building was used mostly for storage.

Gilbert Wirth lists that in 1869 Walters Furniture Factory was located on this spot. The power was furnished by a mule hitched to a turning pole north of the building. In 1891 the Seitz OK Grocery was on the same space. Parkinson’s House of Quality Groceries came next. The front was empty for a long time but Tip Top Creamery was in the rear of the building. A news stand and the Mt. Carmel Café were next. Later was a washeteria (laundromat), probably in the rear portion and Goodson’s Restaurant in the front portion downstairs and Mt. Carmel Hotel upstairs. Later came the Book Nook operated by Mark Hudson before it moved to 500 Market. The spot was also a TV store, Speed Wash (probably also in the back) a Pizza place and Montgomery Ward from 1980 to 1984 run by Pat and Charles French which they leased from attorney Mike Witters.

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