July 21, 1998
Newspaper Photo shown above originally appeared in a 1904 edition of The Perry Republican and it disclosed how these two buildings on the north side of the square appeared at that time. Today's Northwest Corner tells more about them. The building on the right belongs to Butch and Sandy Ellis.
On August 24-25, Oklahoma Main Street program managers from throughout the state will assemble in Perry for a hands-on workshop to learn the right way to restore old business buildings to something like their pristine glory. Perry is fortunate to have been chosen as the site for this workshop, and plans are being made to roll out the welcome mat in a grand way for the 70 or so visitors who will be here for the occasion.
Sponsored by the Oklahoma Main Street organization, the Rehabilitation Workshop is expected to become a model of its kind for other cities and states all over the U.S. The Perry training session will be the first ever held anywhere, so it will be a learning experience in more ways than one. Betty Warner, our local Main Street program manager, is excited about the impact the local workshop will have and she is hoping the community will join heartily in welcoming our visitors. Working with Perry Main Street board and president, Bonneta Hansing, she has rounded up a large committee of volunteers to look after myriad details to prepare for the event.
One of the buildings expected to be tackled is the one-time home of Shedrick Jewelers at 631 Delaware on the north side of the square. Several years ago the upper portion of this two-story structure was covered with a sort of corrugated aluminum scrim with vertical lines and the lower part of the front was also modernized. It now houses the Second Time Around consignment sales store operated by Clara Williams. Sandy and Butch Ellis, who own the building, want to expose the classic back work behind the aluminum "slip cover." They also intend to convert the second story space into a downtown living area. Mrs. Ellis is Mrs. Williams' daughter.
At one time the upper floor was occupied by law offices of the late attorney Henry Dolezal. In addition to his law practice, Mr. Dolezal at various times served as county judge, mayor of Perry and a member of the State House of Representatives in the Legislature. His office furnishings were plain and almost Spartan in design, but the front windows looked out onto the bustling north side of the Perry square and the lush green courthouse park just across the street. Those windows have been covered by the aluminum for so many years that most of us who remember the original look have nearly forgotten what it was like.
While considering this renovation project, along with others to be undertaken here by the Rehabilitation Workshop next month, I experienced another one of those serendipitous gifts that could not have been more timely. Some anonymous friend placed a copy of the March 11, 1904, edition of The Perry Republican inside my front door the other day. It is in remarkably good shape considering that it is more than 94 years old, and there, in the lower left corner of the front page, is a photograph of the Ellis building and the building next door west of it.
The clarity of detail in the photo is remarkable. It is reproduced here today in an adjacent column, and I will have more about it in a subsequent Northwest Corner. Perhaps in the meantime I can learn the name of the friend who brought me that copy of Judge E.W. Jones' Perry Republican. I am grateful to him, or her.