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

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

A visit to Monon

Recently I was in Monon for a meeting. I arrived a bit early, so I walked around the downtown and took pictures.
At the north end of the downtown is their public library. It is a Carnegie Library, constructed in 1914 and renovated in 1993.
I peeked inside. It had a friendly, old-fashion feel to it.
On the other side of the street is the town hall. The old Monon high school has been torn down and is now the site of a gas station and convenience store. The old school building was used for only about thirty years, from 1926 to 1957. I am not sure if the bell was from the school.
A bit further south is a large building the identifies itself as the Horner Block. There is a variety store of some kind in the ground floor with signs mostly in Spanish. In fact, many of the signs in downtown Monon are in Spanish. According the article about Monon in Wikipedia, in 2010 28.4% of the population of 1777 was Hispanic, with almost half of that percentage coming from El Salvador. In 2000 17.25% were Hispanic. (In contrast, in 2010 5.4% of the residents of Rensselaer were Hispanic or Latino.)
Opposite the building above on the east side of the street is the old Monon Theater, which years ago had $1.00 movies. There is a building permit in the window for remodeling. There is a group that would like to restore the building.

A bit further south at the stop light is another large building with Nancy's Mexican Grocery and the Crazy Taco Restaurant. The inscription on the top of the building identifies it as the Fred Thomas Block, 1912.
A bit further south and on the west side of the highway is an old bank building.
It was once the State Bank of Monon.
In the middle of the car lot for Gutwein Motors (Monon has a new car dealership, something Rensselaer no longer has) is a building with a sign for Selz Royal Blue Shoes. I have seen this sign many times and thought that it was for a local shoe store. But above the shoe advertisement is hard to read lettering that I think contains the work "creamery." Searching the Internet for "Selz Royal Blue Shoes" I discovered that signs similar to the one in Monon were once quite common. Some of them have been restored to former glory. The Selz shoe company started in Chicago and by the 1920s had a number of factories in Illinois. It did not do well in the Great Depression and apparently closed in the 1940s. From looking at other signs, my guess is that the company offered to paint the name of the business (in this case some creamery) on the side of the building if it was also allowed to print an advertisement for its shoes. When I spent a couple years in West Virginia, there were many "Chew Mail Pouch Tobacco" signs and the company got them on barns by offering to paint the barns.

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