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Murals Fill Voids in Historic Building
By Catherine Stortz Ripley
March 30, 2016

Seven new mini-murals have been added to Chillicothe and appear where windows once were on the historic Strand Hotel Apartments building at Washington and Clay streets. The artwork faces Washington Street and was created by Chillicothe muralist Kelly Poling. The paintings cover old windows that were needing to be permanently secured, said Patty Lewis, apartment building manager. "We initially intended to do a brick finish," she said. "We wanted to do something that looked nice." Then, the decision was made that since Chillicothe is a city of murals, the openings should have murals painted on them. Most of the paintings are inspired by Chillicothe's history.

Depicted in the murals include: Jack's Sandwich Shop, Geier's Gifts and Hardware, Miller's Soda Fountain (which once was located in the basement of the Strand Hotel Apartments), and the Luella Theater (which was part of the Strand Hotel when it was constructed). Below the Geier's Gifts and Hardware store sign is a door that was painted that shows a man working in a shop. Lewis stated that Bill Gibson was the inspiration behind this mural. Gibson was born in Chillicothe and worked his entire adult life on Chillicothe's downtown square and owned Geier's Gifts and Hardware store. Gibson, now 83 years old, lived across from the Strand Hotel and retired last year as a maintenance worker at the Strand.

The Luella Theatre was established in the 1860s at what has become part of the Strand Hotel Apartments. In 1900, the famed John Philip Sousa and his 50-member band played at the Luella Theatre. In 1906, the Constitution-Tribune reported that several thousand people struggled for seats in the Luella Theatre to hear Missouri Gov. Joseph W. Folk's keynote speech of the Missouri campaign. The theater later became known as the Dickinson Theatre and, in 1933, was destroyed by fire. Rather than using that site to for to rebuild a theatre, the land was used to create an annex apartment building for the Strand Hotel.

Jack's Sandwich Shop: The history of Jack's Sandwich Shop dates back to around the 1920s and closed in 1989. The second  location was a block east of its first location and was on Clay Street, just south of where the Ritz Theater was located. It later moved to the alley behind the Ritz. The business was later moved to the southeast corner of Third and Washington streets. Jack's Sandwich Shop was well-known for its tenderloins, but also served hot dogs and hot tamales. In 1989, it was  reported that the business sold 1,500 tenderloins a week. Jack's Sandwich Shop was operated by Mr. and Mrs. Lowell  Jackson for a total of 18 years.

Miller's Soda Fountain was originally used in Horn's Drug Store, which later became Miller's Drug Store. It was used for the last time at the Strand Hotel. Richard Smith, former owner of the Strand Hotel, bought the soda fountain from Jesse Miller in the late 1970s and put it downstairs in the hotel for children to use after school, Smith said. The fountain was used at the hotel from 1979 to 1981 alongside a pinball machine, and other games for children. Miller worked at the hotel's front desk and on Friday evenings, he often volunteered to man the fountain downstairs.

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