Quad River News--Dec 19, 1984
By Bill Glastone
The accompanying picture shows
the northwest corner of the square in Grant City as it looked
on the morning of October 30, 1902. During the night before two
buildings had collapsed, leaving one person dead and thousands
of dollars of damage.
At that time all of the buildings on the north half of the west
side of the square were two story buildings. The fronts of all
five of the buildings had the same façade. The second story
of the Times Tribune building looks very much the same as it did
M.F. (Mort) Smith operated a store in the end building on the
northwest corner. He had been in business in Grant City many years.
In the account of the fire that destroyed all of the business
houses on the south side of the square in 1882 it mentions that
his store had been saved from the fire. In 1885 Smith had moved
his business to the location on the west side of the square.
In the summer of 1900, Smith, who owned the building in which
he had his store, rented the building adjoining him to the south
from R.H. Deihl, Columbus Junction, Ia. and cut two archways through
the adjoining wall to expand his clothing business. It was generally
agreed that the weakening of this wall let to the collapse of
the two buildings some two years later.
The second floor of the corner building was occupied by Dr. Ernest
Ewing. In addition to his office space he also had his living
quarters. When the building collapsed Dr. Ewing and his wife were
in bed in the front part of the building and they were not harmed.
In a bed in the rear of the building were two young men in their
late teens; Argus Brown from near Allendale who was staying with
Dr. Ewing and taking treatments from him and Lester Showalter
who was a brother of the doctor's wife. Showalter was from Leon,
Ia., and was staying in Grant City to attend school. Both boys
were covered with bricks and debris in the basement. Rescuers
were able to save Brown but were unable to get Showalter uncovered
in time to save his life.
Smith salvaged what he could out of the collapsed buildings and
moved his store to the northeast corner of the square. He immediately
began the ordeal of cleaning up and then rebuilt. By the end of
July of 1903 he was back in business on the northwest corner of
the square in a new one story building.
At the time of the collapse of the buildings B. Prugh operated
a hardware store in the building just to the south of the Deihl
building. Fearing that the north wall of his building had been
weakened, he moved out of that building and proceeded to remove
the second story from his building. Shortly after, Prugh purchased
an old livery stable on the north side of the square, razed it,
and built the building presently occupied by the hardware store.
The Pixie Shop is now (1984) located where the Smith, Deihl and
Prugh buildings were in 1902.