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Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013
Erlbacher Building: Edsel was firstPosted Friday, April 16, 2010, at 7:30 AM
G.D. Fronabarger took this picture for the 1963 Achievement Edition of the Southeast Missourian. The photo was used in an advertisement for Nations' Plymouth-Valiant. The business was owned by Wayne Nations.
According to city directories, by 1962, the building was occupied by Jan Chick Tire Co. Nations' Plymouth-Valiant is listed in 1964 and 1965. By 1967, it was occupied by University Shop sporting goods. Rhea Optical moved in by 1974 and remained for nearly 35 years.
At one time the upstairs level was leased by the city Board of Education and Superintendent of Schools. By 1967, it was leased by Metropolitan College of Business and Technology. Later an indoor miniature golf business was there.
From the National Register nomination, written by Terri Foley, 2009:
The Erlbacher Buildings were constructed 1957-58 by Eddie Erlbacher as
commercial lease properties. In October of 1945, Erlbacher and his wife
Grace purchased the property from L.F. Brenneisen and Dasie I. Albert.
Erlbacher intended to build one large Streamline Moderne style commercial
building to house two automobile dealerships and garages on the property. At
the time of purchase, located on the property was a large boarding house,
known as the Adams House, which had once been a single family residence. This
area of Broadway was still mostly residential in 1945. To the east were a
few commercial buildings. On the west side of the property were residential
buildings in the next two lots. Houses were located on the street to the
rear (south) of the property. Across the street to the north was Houck
Stadium which set back from Broadway and was surrounded by houses to the east
Erlbacher planned to demolish the boarding house in order to construct this
large commercial building and lead the way in commercial development of the
area. However, Erlbacher's plans for development were stalled when some
residents of the boarding house refused to vacate the premises. On January
26, 1946, Erlbacher announced his plans to vacate the Adams House within a
week so he could prepare the site for his construction project. Erlbacher
had given eviction notices in November of 1945 to the ten families living in
the Adams House (about forty people in all) but eight of the ten families
had not found a new home. After months of trying to persuade the last
boarders to move, Erlbacher finally started the demoliton process on the vacant
part of the building. By doing so, the final boarders had no choice but to
Groundwork started on October 29, 1946, for what would have been the largest
building on Broadway if completed. The design was by local architect Harold
W. Long. However, the project was hindered for over a year upon completion
of the foundation by a post World War II steel shortage. By May 1948,
Erlbacher had received only half of the steel needed for his proposed
one-story Streamline Moderne style building to house the Homer Milikan Motor
Company and the Waller Motor Company. Not until September 9, 1948, had
enough steel been received for construction to proceed. The 1949 and 1951
Polk's City Directory of Cape Girardeau listed the property as under
construction, but the project was stalled again when labor problems arose.
This time, Erlbacher suspended construction for what turned out to be
In the fall of 1957, Erlbacher decided to resume construction at 1105 and
1107 Broadway. But this time he felt it would be more financially feasible
to erect two smaller buildings with basements. As to the earlier design, the
style was to be Streamline Moderne. The buildings would be constructed of
steel, brick and concrete and would feature extensive walls of glass. With
enough steel on hand, construction started in the fall of 1957. The
Erlbacher Buildings were completed by July of 1958...
The building at 1105 Broadway housed Edgewater Motors Inc., an Edsel and
Renault dealership. Bill's Courtesy Cleaners leased the building at 1107
Broadway. Today, Courtesy Cleaners is still located within the building, but
under different ownership.... While 1107 Broadway never experienced a change
of occupants, the 1105 building did. By 1962, Jan Chick Auto leased the
first floor of the building and the Board of Education leased the second
floor. Nations Plymouth Valiant leased the building in 1964.
Editor's Note: Rhea Optical was the last tenant in the building until leaving in 2009.
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Fred Lynch has captured images for the Southeast Missourian since 1975, in that time moving from black-and-white to color, from film to digital and to video. The blog title is a nod to an earlier era of news photography and the 4x5 Speed Graphic: It's more important to be there for the shot than to worry about technical details.