Sunday, April 22, 2012

Kubitshek-U.S. Bank Corner

The west end of the south side of Chariton's square, officially Lot 4, Block 14, original city of Chariton, is among its most historic spaces. The intersection of Sections 19, 20, 29 and 30, Lincoln Township, where those assigned during the fall of 1849 to locate a county seat gathered around a surveyor stake to do so, is just across the street. And the hotel, known most often as Hatcher House, was built on its western three quarters during the fall of 1853.

Lot 4 was purchased from Lucas County on March 19, 1852, by Ann Arnold, who sold to Joshua P. Chapman, a land agent and surveyor, the following May. It's not clear who built the hotel. It may have been Chapman. Elijah Lewis, in his memoir of early Chariton, credits the rambling frame building to a Mr. Culbertson.

Whatever the case, it survived into the 1890s. By that time it had ceased to be used as a hotel and housed a variety of businesses on its first floor, offices and living quarters above.

Henry Kubitshek purchased the east quarter of Lot 4 from his brother, Michael, in September of 1872, and was in business there, sometimes as a grocer, for many years. During March of 1894, he purchased the Hatcher House property and, after demolishing both it and his own building, constructed the four-storefront Kubitshek Block during 1896, utilizing the entire lot. The east storefront was designed to house the Yengel Brothers Meat Market, but it isn't clear if the Yengels purchased their fourth of the building before or after it was built. Other than the Mallory Opera Block, this was the largest commerical structure on the square when it was built.

This report from The Chariton Herald of Feb. 13, 1896, provides a number of details about its construction: "The contracts for the new brick block on the southwest corner of the square were awarded last week to Messrs. J.B. Teas & Son, contractors and builders, who are to have the work completed and the rooms ready for occupancy by September 1st next. Mr. Henry Kubitshek has the three west lots and Jacob Yengel the east lot. The building will be two stories, ninety feet deep and four rooms wide, finished in a thorough manner and trimmed with Bedford stone. Messrs. Teas & Son inform us they intend giving the work so far as possible to home people, which is certainly a commendable spirit. Saunders Bailey has a contract to furnish the brick from his kilns just at the south border of town, and Messrs. Hudson & Snyder of the Chariton Granite and Marble works, have secured the stone trimmings contract. This latter work has mostly gone to outside parties heretofore, but these gentlemen are first class workmen and will demonstrate the fact that it can be done as cheaply and well by a Chariton firm as by foreigners."

The Kubitshek family retained ownership of west three-fourths of the building until 1921, years after the family, including wife Deborah and daughters Susie and Henrietta, had moved elsewhere. Henry himself died in Denver during 1914.

At the time the postcard photo was taken, the Kubitshek block was occupied by (from left) the Yengel meat market, a pharmacy, a restaurant and the U.S. Post Office, located here until the current post office was completed during 1917.

The building continued to be occupied by a variety of businesses, offices and apartments until fire broke out during the early morning of March 31, 1965, in Pat and Bill's Tavern, which occupied one of the storefronts, and spread throughout the building, destroying it. Other businesses left homeless were the Iowa Liquor Store, Chariton Barber Shop, Charles Beauty Shop, Norge Launderama and a basement photo studio operated by Dwight Oliver. Eight apartments as well as two offices upstairs also were destroyed.

In June of 1965, after the debris had been carted away, the lot was sold by multiple owners to First State Bank as the site for its first drive-up bank. The drive-up bank on the site currently is operated by First State's successor, U.S. Bank.

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