The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

November 16, 2013

A historical perspective

By Barb Mask Special to the Herald
The Clinton Herald

---- — The re-opening of Sweet Woodruff on 1100 and 1102 Fourth St. has conjured up memories of how the buildings started and what businesses have called those buildings home in the past.

The mercantile and grocery store on the southwest corner of Fourth Street and 11th Avenue was operated by R. Green and Sons for more than 60 years; 46 at this site. They advertised as “The Pioneer Merchants.” On Feb. 18, 1876, the Fulton Journal announced, “The Greens are erecting a fine brick building on the site of their present store. The lower part will be used for a store and the upper for dwelling purposes.”

W. C. Green, one of the owners and his family, lived in the upper level for more than 60 years. How successful was their business? The Fulton Journal, dated Dec. 21, 1909, noted “that R. Green & Sons are enjoying an unusually large trade during the present holiday season. Since Saturday they have had thirteen clerks employed to wait upon their large army of patrons.”

• 1102 Fourth St. — The site of Sweet Woodruff for the past two years, was built in 1891. Because of the success of their business, the Greens erected that building on the south. Presently, Wendy and Phil Ottens, have expanded her business into the north building.

The arched walkways have been “rediscovered.” The original tin ceiling is restored and the maple hardwood floors are again exposed and appreciated. The history of 1102 Fourth St. was described when Sweet Woodruff had its grand opening in 2011. Three of Dwight Green’s granddaughters attended the celebration. While here in Fulton, one of them encouraged Wendy to expand into the north store; a suggestion that has now become a reality.

There has been plenty of activity at 1100 and 1102 Fourth St. over the years. Here are the businesses that have called this location home.

• 1876: R. N. Green builds a two story building; moved the existing building next door (in 1891, he builds a new building at 1102) — successful grocery and mercantile business.

• 1922 — Clarence Durkee (brother of Dr. W. H. Durkee) became the manager of the business. He closed the north store in 1924 and ceased the grocery business; mercantile only.

• 1924-1927 — Great American Stores open a grocery store in 1100 Fourth St.

• 1927 — National Tea buys Great American Store, managed by John Amman and his son, Lester.

• 1934 — Dwight P. Green, grandson of R. N. Green, the original owner, gained ownership. He sold the building to Chapin and Gaffey who operated the Red and White Grocery Store.

• 1945-1957 — Red and White Grocery Store: purchased from Chapin and Gaffey by John DeWeerdt, the new owner of the grocery business; manager, Alice Hook.

• 1957-1984 — Henry (Cloe) Bielema bought the building for $6,500 from Les Chapin and Vincent Gaffey of Savanna, Ill., who formerly operated the Red and White Grocery store. He and his brother, Mike, operated a shoe sales and repair business. The shoe business continued under the management of Don Vander Vinne, Ken Ven Huizen and Terry Bielema.

• 1984 — Henry Bielema sold the building to Diane and Gene DeWeerdt (son of John) who rented it to Wilson’s Greenhouse and Florist Shop.

• 1992 — Ruth and Gus Hayenga purchased the building and continued to operate their floral shop.

• 2013 — The Hayengas sold the building to Wendy and Phil Ottens who expanded the Sweet Woodruff Shop; now operating in 1100 and 1102.

On Feb. 18, 1876, the Fulton Journal announced, “The Green’s new building will add greatly to the appearance on our principal business street.”