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May 15, 2001

North side of Perry square as it appeared around 1909, when this postcard photo was made.

Janet Harmon recently showed me a picture postcard of the north side of the square as it looked nearly 100 years ago and the image is so fascinating that I knew you’d want to see it, too. The reproduction appears in an adjacent column. Thanks to Janet and the First Bank and Trust Co. for sharing this with all of us.

The postcard came to light recently after someone in Illinois acquired it through a private sale and then contacted the Perry bank. It originally was mailed from Perry on March 1, 1909, according to the handwritten message signed by John A. Hansen, who at the time was president of the Perry Bank of Commerce. He mailed it to Jacob Kryder, Highland Avenue, Freeport, Illinois, who evidently was a customer of the local bank. The message reads: “We wish you many happy returns of your birthday.” Presumably the Bank of Commerce greeted all its customers on their birthdays.

The photo clearly shows Delaware street, which is the north side of the square, looking east from the intersection with Seventh street. Prominent in the foreground is the handsome two-story brick building that for years housed the Bank of Commerce.

The entry is angled at the corner of the building and it features an impressive cut stone archway. Canvas awnings shade the west upper windows and the letters “BANK” are set out in relief just below twin pediments adorning the roof line. This building no longer exists. After the bank went out of business, several offices were located there with apartments upstairs. The last tenant was Gordon Clark’s Oklahoma Tire & Supply Co. (OTASCO) store, which was destroyed by fire some 40 years ago. Albright Title & Trust Co. and the Perry tag agency share the one-story building now located on the corner.

Several businesses along the north side of the square can be identified, including my Dad’s City Drug Store at 643 Delaware, also with canvas awnings flapping in the breeze, and the B.J. Woodruff Dry Goods Store at 631 Delaware. One of the most interesting features is the broad dirt street stretching all the way to the Santa Fe Railway station at the east end of Delaware. The street shows tracks made by ancient vintage autos or horse-drawn carriages. The sidewalks have curbs and gutters, and some of Mr. Will Little’s young elm trees can be seen in the courthouse park. There is some evidence in the near foreground that the street is about to receive a brick covering.

Electric utility poles can be seen on both sides of Delaware and it appears a single street light (not a traffic light) is suspended over the intersection. Perry was a young city at the time, and the downtown was a bustling hub of commerce. Seeing this historic picture brings to reality something of what our little city looked like ‘way back there in the early days of statehood, not too far removed from the great Cherokee Strip run of September 16, 1893. Thanks again to Janet Harmon and the First Bank for passing this photo along.