This blog reports events and interesting tidbits from Rensselaer, Indiana and the surrounding area.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Update on emptiness I

In January and February I wrote about empty commercial buildings here, here, and here. It is time to take another look to see what has happened.

Way up north, the empty Dance Magic spot is now occupied by a pizza place, Papa Bills.

I have not heard anything about this place, and did not know that it was there until I stumbled on it and took these pictures.
I noticed that there was a new place across the highway, the Bargain Barn. I had seen some ads in the Rensselaer Republican for this place. It is open five days a week (closed Wednesdays and Sundays) and say they sell a little bit of everything. The also rent U-Haul trailers. I will have to check them out.
When I was last out that way, this building, which was once housed the studios of WRIN, had a business called "Rug Rats" selling carpeting. I know nothing about this business.
Coming south, we get to the jog in the road north of the Dodge dealership. Here an old gas station that had housed a beauty shop called Sharper Image Salon was for rent. It has been filled with Randall Dermatology and Med Spa.

The reception area looked rather Spartan.To the north, there is a lot with a small building for sale. The asking price is rather high--it must be for the location, not the building.

Across the highway, the old gas station remains empty. The business that used to be here was called Rail to Trail Tack & Feed. It is on the mail box, and I did not notice it when I did the post in January. A bit the the west is the large building that was once part of Northway, and its status seems unchanged.

Continuing south, there is a sign announcing a sort-of new business, Auto Works. When Heuring Ford went out of business, the mechanics who worked there stayed behind, continuing to fix cars. They probably had this name when I wrote about Prairie's Edge, but I did not remember it.
Crossing the railroad track, we find a new vacancy on the corner of McKinley and Vine. The Healthy Families office used to be here. They moved to the old Nesbitt Law building on Front Street, renting part of that space. The back half of this building on McKinley and Vine is still occupied by Broussard's accounting office.

(Update: I learned that this building has a long history. Early in the 20th century it was a barbershop with two barbers, one of them the grandfather of Charlie Roberts. Then it became a meat market, followed by a feed mill that had several owners--one was named Hunt. Next it was a shop selling fish and aquariums, Happy Daze Aquarium and Pets, and it was there I came to Rensselaer in 1974. Now it is an office building.)
A bit further south, Kirby Risk is in the process of moving to their new building on Clarke.

Across the street is a vacant building that has neither a for-sale or a for-rent sign. It was once Slaughter's Garage. When I first came to Rensselaer, I took my Chevy Nova there to be serviced and fixed. After a few years, Paul Slaughter closed up his shop and went to work for Charlie Robert's Chevrolet.
Where McKinley turns to the southeast, the old gas station across from St. Augustine's school remains for sale, and there is still a for rent sign in the big house that used to be Paul's Beauty Salon. Arriving downtown, the old Horton Building still has a for-rent sign. So does the former Whippersnap's office to the southeast and the building next to the Lafayette Bank and Trust to the southwest. Part of the Lafayette Bank and Trust complex will soon be vacant. However, there are three happier stories. The old Unfinished Furniture building is being renovated as Devon's Doghouse. The little nook by CI Insurance is now a store called Bags, Bangels, and Baskets.
And the empty slot in the front of the old Sears Building is now a hairdresser with the name Cutting Room Hair Styling Salon.
This is enough for one post. The rest will have to wait for a second installment.


Michael J Oakes said...

I was in Bargain Barn yesterday to reserve a U-Haul. Karen was intelligent about the rental and helpful. Her small desk was in a corner of a room of a very diverse mix of products. Trampolines, beds, games, toys, exercise equipment. Didn't check on prices.

Oh: You had a Chevy Nova?

Sheila said...

Wow! Lots of changes going on in Rensselaer. Thanks for the updates!

Anonymous said...

You have more news than our local newspaper. You should be paid a salary. I enjoy your website. Keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

hi iam chris the co owner of the bargain barn.karen and i really enjoy your blogs and photos excellent work. you are welcome at our establishment any time.keep up the wonderful work!!!!!

AC Needy said...

I spent many years in that old building, 619 N. McKinley ... I would not have recognized the building if it were not for your description.

Somewhere I have many photos of that building, many were taken before Happy Daze opened at that location ... a lot of work has been done on that building through the years, I am surprised that it is still standing.

For anyone that may be interested Happy Daze first location was 503 Clark.