Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Two Buildings Get Rehab, One Torn Down in Downtown Marion

Again, it's not exactly tourism, but two projects on North Market Street in Marion are changing the views in the historic downtown shopping district.

Hurst-Roche Engineers, Inc. bought both the Duty and Heyde buildings in the 200 block of North Market Street last year and shortly thereafter began renovations.

They've now moved their Marion operations into the Duty Building on the corner. The Marion location is one of six in Illinois and Missouri.

The south wall includes Marion's third exterior mural downtown. This time showing three figures that could be workers for the firm.

The figures are similar to the scenes in Greenville, Illinois.

The building has recently housed furniture stores in the last couple of decades, but before that it was home to a series of pharmacies since the beginning of the 20th Century.

Delos L. Duty, former owner who gave his name to the building when he added the second floor nearly a century ago, started out as a pharmacist there in the early 1900s. He became an attorney in the early 1910s and Williamson County's state's attorney in the turbulent 20s.

He began a high profile murder trial on the first day of his term in 1920, which resulted in a death penalty against Settimi DeSantis, which will be the subject of a new book out later this year by this author tentatively titled, "DeSantis the Doomed and the Curse of the Black Hand."

Duty went on to prosecute union miners following the Herrin Massacre and become a thorn in the side of the Ku Klux Klan during the Klan War of the mid 1920s.

Down the street on the other side in the 300 block, Meridith Ashe, owner of M Clothing & Accessories in the renovated Williams Hotel building next to Bennie's Italian Foods has torn down the old Book Exchange building at 301 N. Market on the corner, but is planning to keep the building in between at 303 and 305 N. Market St.

At one point she had considered plans for a bed and breakfast on the second floor of the Williams Hotel above her clothing store, but ended up with apartments instead.

As to her future plans for the remaining building and the corner lot, nothing is set in stone.

"Right now, I'm not sure, since I just finished renovations [on the Williams Hotel]," Ashe said this afternoon.

As to the corner lot, "for right now, we're just clearing it off and planning."

She's wanting to keep the middle building and eventually renovate it.

UPDATE — Oct 6, 2011
For more on Ashe's business, check out this feature on her from earlier this summer in the Southern Illinoisan.

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