Then & Now: 400 Block S. Main St
Then – 400 Block S. Main, 1928
It is estimated that most silent films have been lost to time. This is due mainly to the fact that early motion picture film was combustible. Such is the case with “Sporting Goods” starring Richard Rex, which is featured on the Capitol Theatre marquee in this photo. The Capitol was built in 1926 and was not the tallest downtown building at the time. The 1909 Citizen Building was the tallest, with six floors compared to the Capitol’s five. The F.C. Harms Block building on the right side was built by Aberdeen architect John Henry for Fred C. Harms. In 1908, Harms purchased the piano business from Downtown jeweler D.G. Gallett and built this building in 1917 at the corner of Fifth Avenue as a piano and “Edison Instruments and Records” showroom. Harms had the south, corner spot while Buttolph & Kurtz ran a fur store in the north retail space. The term “block” refers to a multipurpose building that includes retail and commercial space (typically on the first floor and basement) and residential units on the upper floors. This picture shows a glimpse of the original Federal Courthouse on the corner of Fourth and Main. It was demolished for scrap during World War II.
Now – 400 Block S. Main, 2023
Aside from the Federal Courthouse missing on the extreme left, not much has changed in this view. Most people don’t know, and probably won’t believe this, but the Capitol marquee was originally green, not red. The marquee has been well taken care of by Aberdeen Community Theatre over the years and now sports LED light bulbs. The Moxie Salon is nearly identical to the F.C. Harms building, except it is half the width. The Harms block would eventually be purchased by Jim Gohn who moved Jorgenson’s Men’s Wear there when Coast To Coast moved down the block. At some point, the bricks at the top that stair-step out fell off, along with many of the bricks on the front. They crashed through an awning which then smashed all the picture windows. Cinder blocks were used to replace the red brick and that was then covered with diagonal cedar plank siding that was painted brown. I took ownership of the building in 2002 and eventually removed the wood and cinder blocks and had new brick restored on the entire Main Street front, including the stair-stepped parapet on top. A clever observer will notice that two windows on the Harms building are now missing. //