December 30, 2009
Sadly, another landmark turns into an 'opportunity'
Gerald Karwowski of Oak Clearing Farm sent us the photo above, reminding us of the time when two unique Racine landmarks stood side by side on the 500 block of Main Street. The picture, taken where the Johnson Building stands today, dates from about 1922 (at least, that's the year Bachelor Daddy and The Paleface were released).
Porter Furniture -- we were interested to note that the store's name at the time didn't sport the final "s" it currently has -- later moved to Sixth Street. And now, sadly, like the Rialto, it's going to disappear forever. After 152 years as a Racine landmark and destination shop for (we're guessing now) wealthy Chicagoans with good taste.
Historian Karwowski wasn't surprised to hear that Porters will be closing. "The economy and the rebuilding of Sixth Street at the worst possible time has taken its toll. The handwriting has been on the walls for years now. Business can't survive without customers. If the residents of Racine would follow the Golden Rule of Trade many businesses would still be doing well.
"That rule is simple: Spend your money locally! Invest in your community! Every dollar spent outside Racine is gone!"
It's hard to argue with Karwowski, although clearly there's more to it in an environment where so much commerce takes place locally, but in chain stores whose profits -- Wal-Mart, anyone? -- go out-of-state.
Karwowski suggests that city leaders will put as bright a face on this as possible. "No problem... look at the advantages: More parking for the Court House! Do you realize how valuable that property is for redevelopment!"
Forty years ago it was a million dollar property (well, in 2008 its assessed value was $560,000), but soon the city will be able to get it for pennies on the dollar. Sadly, we've got far more "redevelopment opportunities" available than actual redevelopment.