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November 6, 1998

One of the interesting buildings slated for restoration as part of Perry's Main Street program is a two-story sandstone structure anchoring the east half of the south side of the square. It is owned by Glen and Jill Zimmer and it is properly known as the Zimmer building, but for many years most folks in Noble county called it the Monroe-Lang Building. It then was the home of a large, prosperous business operated by the Charles Monroe family and J.E. (Tiny) Lang. Through the years it has been the home of other Perry retail establishments, mostly hardware stores, but the Monroe-Lang name probably stuck longer than the others.

In the recent Main Street makeover workshop, an aluminum facade was stripped from the front of the upper story of the building, revealing, four gracefully arched windows on the second floor. The aluminum "slip cover" was added in the 1930s when such things were in general usage to add a "modern" touch to older buildings. Today the reverse is in vogue. We are getting back to the architects' original designs and the result is the revelation of some marvelous Victorian structures in our midst.

The Zimmer family moved here from Edmond when they purchased the Monroe-Lang building. They were captivated by the possibility of restoring the old building to its original grandeur. They plan to convert the second story into living quarters for themselves. A one-story addition to the south end of the building was the first project tackled and it now serves as Mr. Zimmer's office. The front of the first story will be treated as retail space, although plans for it are not yet definite. In the meantime, the Zimmer family lives in the second story apartment that was converted from office space several years ago in a building just up the street from their property. One of Main Street's objectives is to create more of these family dwelling units in the downtown area.

The Zimmer building was built in 1898 by pioneer Perry merchant A.C. Hinde to house his new hardware store. He later sold the business to two partners, Mr. Flemming and Mr. Farmer, but through the years it continued as a hardware store under names such as William H. McCormick, a Mr. Guthrie and eventually the Monroes and Tiny Lang, whose wife was Margaret Monroe, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Monroe Sr. In addition to the four arched windows on the upper floor frontage, the building is crowned with an ornate pressed metal cornice around the roofline. The original recessed ground floor entry has been replaced with more modem plate glass windows and a central doorway, all flush with the front of the building.

In the next column we'll take a look back at the Monroe-Lang Hardware store which occupied the Zimmer building for many years.