History of Our Building, Part 1

Old coins, including an Indian head nickel that David found for us.

For a few months now, I’ve been delving into the history of the properties we’ve acquired or are in the process of acquiring in the old part of Cameron. There will be a series of posts on what I’ve found, as soon as I gather all my information.

[This post was originally written for the Hermit Haus Redevelopment blog.]

No foolin,’ I got a nice boost of knowledge when a local historian and reader of this blog, David Basonic, showed up at the office and talked to our assistant, Mandi, about what he’d learned after reading my post last week when I solved the mystery of why the Rosson family never lived in the Gillis house (the future bed and breakfast to go with The Hermit Haus), but DID live on the corner of College and Gillis streets (which used to be 2nd St., and before that was Bridge St.). Oh, and by the way, Main Street used to be Belton.

Hard to see, but the red building is the Baptist church, while our building is across the street from it on the left. The Rosson house is at bottom left.

David had more information for me, and also gave me links to some reference material I hadn’t looked at yet, mainly a collection of old fire insurance maps, the Sanborn Collection, and some very cool aerial photographs that you can buy prints or digital downloads of. After I gave David permission to do metal detecting around our properties, I filed all the information away for when I had time to do some research.

You can see that there were actual houses near the churches in 1906.

Meanwhile, over the weekend, he found some old money on one side of the church building but not much else. The Gillis house was just chock full of metal debris, so no luck there. I told him to go check out all the houses (since he lives right near the Washington property, that one won’t be hard).

So, What about the Church?

There are fire maps of Cameron going back to 1885, when there wasn’t much of Cameron at all. But by 1901, the Baptist church across the street from our property was built, but had no electricity or gas. In 1906, our building was there! The Gillis house was also there, but more on that in another post. In 1912, our building was listed as a “vacant” church. But in the next series, it’s the Christian Church, which it remained until last year!

You’ll notice on the first map on the left, that the Rosson house appears behind the church, so we know it was real! It’s a bit of a bummer that Gillis St. is the dividing line between portions of the map image, so we can’t see the buildings together, but it does show up in 1906, as one would surmise. I guess Cameron experienced a big period of growth between 1901 and 1906!

There are a few more fire maps, up until 1931, so we can see the surrounding buildings change, the Coca-Cola plant appear, etc. I won’t make you look at all of them, but you can find them on this page. You might be able to find your own house!

Then a Gap

I couldn’t find anything map-wise between the 1930s and the 1960s, but this aerial map that I paid ten bucks for does show all the buildings I know and love. That’s pretty cool as far as I’m concerned! There’s lots more to come, but this was pretty fun.

12 Apr 1976, Cameron Herald

But Wait, there’s MORE

I also found an article that explains a lot about the shape the building’s in. This article talks about a fire in the 1920s  that caused the church’s congregation to meet in the basement, or what I assume it the basement, the “undercroft”, because of a fire that ravaged the whole town. They’d just gotten it all fixed up in 1976, with the stained glass we know and love, and were putting in the paneling we are about to remove. It sure held up well! Be sure to click on the image to read it. I found the article while searching for one of the owners of the Gillis House, Buddy Fuller, about whom you will learn more soon.

History is cool.

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