October – 2015 – Magnolias Online
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October 2015

Well Isn’t That Spooky

Well, I wasn’t expecting that! A friend dug up some interesting info at the library the other day! Seems our building has a little history I wasn’t expecting! Early on, it housed the Wolt, Berge, Swoboda Funeral Home in the west side of the building (432 Norfolk Ave). That was a surprise that certainly hadn’t come up before in all the recollections of the old timers I had talked to! 
   In an effort to confirm this as fact, I placed a call to Home for Funerals here in Norfolk. Yes, there was at one time several funeral homes in Norfolk. During World War II they merged to pool their resources and cut expenses, forming what is now Home for Funerals. From the Newspaper article and ad seen here, Mr Fred Wolt opened a Furniture store at 438 Norfolk Ave. This is the present location of the vacant Stinson’s/Dollar General building. It was June of 1916. 


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   “The opening of the Fred G Wolt Store was attended by a large crown of Norfolk people. Special furniture from eastern factories was brought to Norfolk for the opening. The new store is in the Rees building on Norfolk Avenue and fifth street. Each visitor was presented with a carnation.” (nice touch!)
   “Mr Wolt, who is now in charge of the store, will turn the management over to his partner, RB Judson who will move here from Gering Nebraska in a few days.  Mr Wolt will return to Norfolk in a month and open an undertaking establishment. He is in that business in Scottsbluff Ne. The stock of the new store is valued at $8000.”  (Well that barely sets up a living room these days! )   It was fascinating to me that, like myself, Mr Wolt’s furniture store was stocked with “Shades, Curtains, and Curtain rods”! Isnt that interesting! I know that it was common at the time for undertakers and furniture stores to often share the same building and, although it’s not within the same walls, it did place the two businesses just doors apart!
   From a  listing in a city directory and another article, I could see that Forest Swoboda joined the firm, completing the 3 partner name, in August of 1938. But, by 1939 the store was listed as vacant. That must be the year Home for Funerals formed with Berge and Swoboda as partners there.
   Now, if only I could figure out who added this crazy garage at the back of our building! You would not believe what is on the inside, Given the sadly decomposing cinder block construction, you would think to knock it down and start over. But, check this out:
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 An unbelievable ceiling and a skylight?!  For a hearse?? We just dont know for sure. It’s a theory that will need some more investigating . Hmmm , maybe we need a seance to get these questions answered as no one living can tell me just when that was added and what for!

– Amy

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If you have photos or historical info about our building – please send them our way! We would love to share them with everyone!  Send to: Amy@MagnoliasOnline.com

Looking into History

   To wrap my head around the age of this building.. I did some research to unearth the history of Norfolk and the Downtown at this time. You can see in some photos below – this era was truly the early days of Norfolk. No paved streets. Buggies for transportation, but what a nice row of businesses – quite a busy hub for the area.
   In 1910 the building was constructed on the West side. I can’t say for sure what its original use was. We are still trying to find info and photos to go with it. Any historians out there who would love a project? Let me know! hehe!
   As you can see in the photo, the building clearly is 2 separate properties with different coloring to the brick and noticeably different accent glass in the upper transom windows. It seems in 1930, the building on the right (to the east) was demolished in May of that year and then rebuilt by Emil Koehn. Emil owned other downtown property, including a Saloon on south 5th street. During the Prohibition his name pops up in several articles as he was not always complying with the law!
   The newly constructed building opened in August of that same year as Boyden Pharmacy. We are gathering photos and documents from the paper about that grand opening for a later post. I still havent found an interior picture but would really love to. That Pharmacy must have been quite the thing with its soda fountain! I can see from directories that the Bernard Ptak Law office was an original tenant on the 2nd floor as well.
   From newspaper articles I have also discovered that in 1916, a man named Fred Wolt had a business in what may be the location of the Stinson Building, called Fred D Wolt and company. Isnt it interesting that in his newspaper ad his company sold Furniture, Rugs, and other household goods including Shades, Linoleums, Curtains & Curtain Rods! Fred later opened an additional business in the West side of our building later in the 20’s. He was an Undertaker! Really! But that is for another post! 

– Amy

For more pics and updates, follow us on our Facebook page. 

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If you have photos or historical info about our building – please send them our way! We would love to share them with everyone!  Send to: Amy@MagnoliasOnline.com