Retail or Bakery, 613 Davis Evolves
Struggling to find an identify, 613 Davis is a building which has seen its fair share of retail merchants and an abundant aroma of food centric businesses. Located in the Commercial Historic District of Corning, Iowa this building is nestled in a proud Main Street Community of over 30 years.
Constructed on Lot 649 in 1908 by the First National Bank of Corning, Agnes Widner, the second daughter of bank president F.M. Widner, was the first landlord. On April 13, 1909 Cain’s Clothing with Peregrine Piano moved from their 700 Davis location to be the first tenants at 613 Davis. A fire in the rear of the store forced them to close in February 1915. This allowed J.H. Dunn to quickly move his “racket store”, coincidentally previously located at 700 Davis, in March of the same year. That peculiar term might surprise you as a racket store would be known today as a discount store. Unfortunately, tied to the closing the previous year of the First National Bank of Corning due to a run on it by depositors spooked by the 10 day presence of a bank examiner, Mr. Dunn goes bankrupt that November. Mr. C.G. Trent opens the Bee Hive Racket Store in January, 1916 but is out of business in November.
Spenser’s Café ushers in a long succession of food purveyors when it opens in that building in December of 1916. Spenser’s Café is sold to the Woodmansee’s in July of 1920. They, in turn, sell it to George Simpson, the former sheriff of Adams County, who ran a cafe there from October 1920 until he sells it to F.J. Walton in July 1921.
In 1924 Agnes Widner sells the property to Daniel Webster Turner and the building’s focus shifts to baking. Britt Drew moved in his bakery in that same year from a different location in Corning. He’d made the newspapers in 1922 for constructing a sidecar on his motorcycle capable of hauling 200 loaves of his “Blue Ribbon” bread for his delivery route to surrounding towns. He made the newspapers again in 1931 when, for mysterious reasons, he threatened a friend and then a policeman with a pistol in the bakery. His wife sold the bakery business to I.J. Costillo in 1931 who remodeled then opened under the name “Home Bakery”. That name endured through a long line of bakers until 1975 when the last Home Baker moved up Davis Avenue. Just for the fun of recognizing their names, the following is a list of those bakers and their year of assuming ownership of the business: Paul Miller 1931, Mr. Hansen 1934, Mr. and Mrs. Logsdon 1934, A.W. Steiner 1935 who installed a new oil burning Harper Reel Oven capable of baking 168 loaves every 30 minutes. In 1937, he thanked Corning for the success of their “Corning Maid” bread saying they use 360 pounds of yeast and 100 barrels of flour each month! Doggett and Sanders 1940, Lester Hite (date unknown), O.M. Sheppard 1944 who remodeled with a new building facade featuring large display windows, Harold Shunemann 1948 who had moved to the US in 1928, Bruce Wilson 1957, and ending with Steve Stueckradt 1964 until 1975.
Ownership of the building passed from Daniel Webster Turner to Wendell Bell in 1974. In 1975, Steve Stueckradt moved to another location on Davis Avenue and 613 Davis apparently sat empty until Deke and Linda Schafroth bought it in 1979 to open their Sears store. Around 1991, Frank and Gidget Dennis converted it into a video store and arcade. Following historical pattern, it became L and J’s Kitchen in 1996 and in 2006 Boz’s Kitchen. Carley Pappas purchased the building in late 2017 and began the tedious work of exposing the original brick walls and 14ft ceiling with its’ original tile, laying flooring, and transforming the building into Sunset Boutique, a clothing store which opened in 2018. There were also façade improvements made with the help of a grant from Main Street Corning and local banks. Unfortunately, Sunset Boutique closed in 2019 and the building has sat empty ever since except for a pop-up shop in 2020 during the holiday shopping season.
The potential for this building, whether food, retail, or something altogether different, is only a dream away for the next tenant. Time will tell who will be fortunate to call 613 Davis home in this ever-evolving piece of history.
Main Street Corning
Edited By: Marti Gebbie, MSC Executive Director