Granum's bakery in 1924 with the 'brick oven' in full view, in same location as our present bakery.
Granum's bakery in 1924 with the 'brick oven' in full view, in same location as our present bakery.
Many years ago Norman Tabor presented to the local historical society a copy of fire maps done by the Sanborn Map Co. of Chicago for the city of Spring Valley. Copyrighted in 1927, there was a later index for 1942. The maps of Spring Valley are absolute treasures, showing every building on the streets, and the "key" unlocks countless bits of information. It shows buildings of brick, stone, tile, frame; fire walls, elevations, windows on each story, roof composition, location of automatic sprinklers, steam heat or air ducts, capacity of water facilities, pumps, and all else important to firemen. The water source was from natural springs; sirens were located on the water tower and at the telephone exchange.

It is fun to consider "what used to be" and what still exists. This week we will ponder mostly downtown, but only the east side of Broadway over to Section Avenue. It was intriguing to note the alleys are given names, almost like streets, and some will be mentioned. North Broadway, going south from the Lee Block (now Sheldons), all buildings for two blocks were of brick or brick faced. In the middle of that first block, the movie theater and its stage occupied much of the space. Close to Courtland, there was a large hall upstairs, part of First State Bank (now Essig Agency), later offices. In the lower block, it was noted that the big furniture store had a large inside balcony, and there was a brick oven in the bake shop. Fascinating to see the butcher shop had a "rendering kettle" and a smoke house on the alley, both fire hazards? The print shop (newspaper) was already established just north of the "restaurant" on the corner of Main. Across Main was the Carnegie public library, and by 1942, a produce house was to its south. East of the library was the pumping station, plus the city reservoir of 150,000 gallons.

Running north/south in back of these brick buildings was wide "Vine" (street or alley) and from the north, the brick Spring Valley Co-op Creamery. They operated two drying plants for milk and buttermilk to the east, as well as a boiler room and coal room. South on the alley, a produce house, and then the former Andersen Opera House, then known as the Oriole Ballroom, but on the map shown as a soft drink warehouse (Kummer Bros.) and hall. (It burned down in 1933; now the site of Hardscrabble Hill Hides & Furs.) Just to its east was the Fire Dept., and you may remember this building burned a few years ago.

Across Courtland and still on Vine, was the chick hatchery (now a parking lot) and to its east the brick city jail. Going south, another produce house, a feed mill, and a blacksmith shop on the corner where Spring Valley Creek flowed right under it. To its east, a "tire and battery repair" (Marchants) and south of them, still on the alley, a tin shop. If June Alley (east of Marchants) had carried through across the Milwaukee railroad tracks and spur, we would have found Spring Valley Milling Co. on E. Park St. in the original light/power plant, and to its west, a granite works. You may view Knute Soland's samples of granite and marble for tombstones at the Methodist Church Museum.

To complete these three blocks, east of Broadway, let's start again on the north and come down Section Avenue. On Jefferson, east of the creamery, was a very large brick dwelling, and across Section, the First Baptist Church. South of the brick house was a garage for eight cars (?) and on Courtland, an auto repair shop and service station. Then the Courtland Street bridge. South of the bridge, of course, the municipal light and power plant, and across the street, the enormous Jas. Smith Lumber Co. with spacious coal sheds. South of the light plant, a farm implement shop (Biel) facing Main St., and on the corner of Section, another auto repair shop; across Section - a "filling station."

On the northeast corner of Main & Section in the 1940s was the Standard Oil Co. with all kinds of "fire hazards"- the filling station, tanks for oils, and big storage tanks for gasoline, kerosene, and oils for the bulk dealers. South of the station was Burgess & Sons' lumber yard in a very large L-shape around Allen's Hall of brick. That corner now comprises the cheese factory warehouse.

The Fire Dept. on the original 1927 map showed "partly motorized," a volunteer chief, assistant chief, and thirteen men; one station; American LaFrance truck with 500 GPM pump, 80 gallon booster tank, 1,600' of 2 1/2" and 2,000' of 1 1/2" hose, and a hand cart with 2,500' of 2 1/2" hose.

Stay tuned for later in the month when we tour on the west side of downtown Broadway, west past Porter Alley, over to Washington Avenue. Still a few surprises in store. Blessings to you and yours during this holiday time!