Main Street, Illinois
Stand on Main Street in Arcola, Illinois, in 2007 and you’re going to see the streetscape below, which has probably lingered for 100 and a few more years. On this street are various going concerns, such as Slack Publications Inc. (a likeable name), publisher of the Arcola Record Herald.
Most of the older buildings were made of brick, but at the corner of Main and Water (I think) was the First National Bank building – a bank name among bank names, and carved prominently above the door. The building was built of concrete blocks, as if to announce that this is no ordinary brick building, but a bank built to last. But a newer sign below the carved-in-stone sign tells us that the building is now home to the Arcola Homestead Savings Bank. Maybe that’s just a later name for the original bank, but I suspect that somewhere along the way, say 1933, the old First National Bank gave up the ghost.
I thought the building below was the best-looking structure of the Arcola lot, a little to east of the bank building. I like a building that tells us its birth year: in this case, 1895. It was developed as the nation emerged from the Panic of 1893, and perhaps had been delayed because of that slump. I couldn’t tell if anyone currently occupies the upper stories. The tall windows on the upper floors were boarded up half-way. Tall windows would have been just the thing to let in air and light in the days before air conditioning and fluorescent lights, but later they would have become liabilities. Still, boarding them up gives an otherwise solid building a seedy look.
Just as the downtown commercial street peters out, there’s a Baptist church. A sign near a side door to this building says in English: "Community Storm Shelter." It also says in Spanish: "Albergue para la Comunidad en Caso de un Tormenta." Sure, there’s an Amish population in the surrounding counties. But that detail makes me suspect that there’s a migrant Hispanic population, too. That and the Mexican restaurant I saw off Main Street. The sign is below:
I didn’t take a picture of it, because it isn’t really picturesque, but on the corner across from the bank is the Dutch Kitchen, where we had lunch on Saturday. It offers Amish-style food. Food to go out and work the fields without the benefit of too much modern machinery, such as the chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes and corn I had. As a desk worker, this kind of thing might ultimately contribute to my demise. But I was willing to take that chance, and was handsomely rewarded with a delicious experience.