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Long Time Gone and Down on Maine Street

By Grady Weeks

October 11, 2023

The following story was written 25 years ago as part of the series created by the Eads High School history project—Kiowa County: A Retrospective at the Dawn of a New Millennium. This series was written by EHS juniors and seniors in 1999—as the new century was about to come on to the scene. Each student chose a subject they were interested in and then through first-hand interviews and primary sources did the research and wrote the article. Each article was printed in the Kiowa County Press. The high school staff that guided this project included Pete Conrad, EHS English teacher, and Betsy Barnett, District Media Specialist. The project won a state history award in 2000.

There is a little town out in the middle of southeastern Colorado. It’s smack dab in the middle of Kiowa County and is the county seat. Eads has been around for more than one hundred years, and it will hopefully be around for another hundred and more. This town is special, especially to the people who have lived here all their lives, like Ray “By Golly” Crow and most of his family.

It is also special to the people who have not lived here as long, but who take great interest in its history and life. Many people, including Ray’s family, had to work very hard for a living in the early days of the town development. This hard work created a great number of businesses and buildings to house these businesses.

Many of the memories of the town are centered in and around the buildings on Maine Street. The play on words for the name of the main street in Eads is only coincidence because in its early days all of Eads’ street names running north and south were the names of states with the business street just happening to get the state name of “Maine.” Although all the other street names have been renamed after prominent citizens throughout the years, the town has kept the name and spelling of its “maine” street. Many buildings on Maine Street are quite historic. For instance, the Nipps-Bransgrove building, located just north of the Kiowa County Museum, was built in 1912 by a dentist, Doctor Nipps. He made the bricks for the building himself, from a kit he bought from a catalog from J.C. Penney or Montgomery Wards. It was unchanged until the 1950s when, along with other restoration projects that were begun after World War II, the Perma stone facing was added by Lawrence Bransgrove, a teacher and superintendent in Haswell. The Nipps-Bransgrove building was placed on the Colorado State Historical Register in 1997 and is the first building in Eads to qualify for preservation funding. Two other Kiowa County buildings, the Haswell Jail and the Haswell Women’s Booster Club Building, are also listed in the register. Both were listed in 1996. In its better days, this building was used for five or six different businesses at once. At one time, it housed Clyde Crow’s Stop ‘N Shop grocery store, a drug store, a dress shop where June Blooding often bought her dresses as a teenager, and a café, all located on the street level. Upstairs there was a beauty shop run by Cleo Everman for several years, three or four apartments, and a doctor’s office. Earlier in its history, silent, black and white movies were shown upstairs, as well.

Right north of the Nipps-Bransgrove building are two sections known as the Schoggen’s Buildings. These buildings have been dry goods stores, hardware stores, and grocery stores. For a short time, one of the buildings became a soda fountain shop. Most recently, they have been and are being used as a flower shop. The Wissel family owned and used this building for many years after receiving it from the Schoggen’s family.

There is now a little building located on the next corner north of Nipps-Bransgrove and Schoggen’s buildings. The smallest and southernmost of these is a building which is now a dentist’s office ran a few days a week by Dr. Seward. In its heyday, the building was a theater and a skating rink. It was mainly a skating rink for the local youth, but on the weekends, chairs were placed on the floor so that a movie could be viewed. In March 1928, the Eads High school newspaper was advertising such movies shown in the building as Big Boy with Al Jolson and Our Blushing Brides with Joan Crawford. In later years, the building was used as a Remax Drug Store with dentist offices following, including Dr. John Hines’ office which was a vital presence in the town from the late 1960s until 1991. In more recent years, the building was a video store owned by Paul and Glenda Stoker. This building was owned for several years by the Goff family who also owned the building right next to it, further toward the north.

The Goff Hotel, or Goose Hunter’s Retreat, as Mrs. Ethel Johnson remembers it being called, was a great business. Being built in the late 1890s, it holds a great deal of history, and mystery about it. It was one of the first buildings in Eads and is a two-storied, large building. In the early years of Eads, prominent and not-so prominent customers visited the hotel. In a few personal accounts of the time, the Goff Hotel stands out in most folk’s memories.

Along with the last two buildings was another long section which was known as the Rialto Hotel, but it is now known as the Horn Home. This was a major business even into the late 1960s and had some important visitors such as Ed Johnson, who at the time was the current Democratic candidate for Colorado Governor. He later went on to hold office as Governor and Senator. Occasionally, even in little towns, violence brings about nationwide recognition. Once, according to a story written by the Kiowa County Press in 1968, a man signed into the Rialto and rented the room downstairs by the boiler. Some time later, while checking the boiler, the owner, Lloyd Johnson, found bones. The man was no longer there. All that was left was a bloody suitcase. The hotel was mentioned in papers as far away as New York. Whether or not all the facts are true, the Rialto incident has remained in local folklore to this day.

Sometimes the buildings in a town have a bigger influence on the people living there than realized. Ray Crow, when he was much younger, as he says, was once hit in the head by a shot put. He was sent to the now vacant lot across the street from Ty Valentine’s home. It was then a doctor’s office, run by one of the first and only female doctors in the county, Dr. Minnie B. Hopkins. Some time later, the building was torn down after having been used for apartments and other miscellaneous uses.

Down the street, just north of the post office, lies yet another vacant lot. This one was used for many years as the location of the large Commercial Hotel. It was kept for several years, after retiring from the business, by George and Shirley Crow. The lot is now used for storage of cable dishes by Vernon “Beetle” Koch.

Finally, at the very south end of Maine Street, past the train tracks and the grain elevators, lies a pasture previously owned by the Jackson family. Ray remembers, for many years, the Jacksons running milk form the dairy cows, to all the families in town. Now it is only a pasture including Jackson’s Hole, a popular fishing spot and party place for teenagers.

This town has many more historical facts and stories but to tell them all will take a lot more time to find and write about.

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