Downtown Crothersville buildings come tumbling down; residents share memories



William Brumett met a woman named Leona at Snow’s Restaurant in downtown Crothersville.

The two later got married.

“He said she was the prettiest girl he had ever seen,” their daughter, Sherry Bridges, posted on Facebook Friday. “The Navy had sent him all over the world, but his forever love was drinking a Cherry Coke with her girlfriends in the back booth at Snow’s Restaurant.”

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In Bridges’ post, she included an old picture of her parents and a picture of the building that formerly housed that restaurant in the process of being demolished. The building next to it also had been knocked down.

In June, the town and the buildings’ owner, Hubert Ashley Jr., agreed on a purchase of the properties for $1. After meeting at the property to discuss what would be taken down, however, there was miscommunication on what portion Ashley wanted to keep, said Crothersville Town Council President Danieta Foster.

During a council meeting earlier this month, the members rescinded their vote and discussed a new plan with Ashley and his son, Bobby.

The council told the Ashleys they were going to remove the unsafe portion of the buildings at 117 and 119 S. Armstrong St. Then after those come down, the town and the Ashleys would meet to form a list of repairs that would need to be made to their property at 125 S. Armstrong St., which houses Ashley Foundry.

“The Ashleys will be given a date by which to make the repairs,” Foster said. “If the Ashleys make the repairs or show that they are making reasonable attempts to make the repairs, the town will purchase the property where the buildings have been removed for $1, and the town will be responsible for the $35,000.”

The latter amount is the estimated cost of demolition, which was done over the weekend by Albertson Excavating of Scottsburg.

“If the repairs are not made, the town will place a lien on the property, making the Ashleys responsible, and further steps will be taken by the town to correct the problems of Parcel 73,” Foster said, referring to the foundry property.

If the town winds up purchasing the properties where the buildings were demolished, it will discuss options of what to place there.

“There have been several things discussed, but nothing will happen immediately,” Foster said. “A public area, a parking lot and several other things have been discussed by people in town. At this point, I think we are just waiting to see what takes place with ownership.”

Foster also posted on Facebook Friday after the demolition started.

“Today, the demolition of a piece of history started,” she wrote. “If you talk to different people in town, you will get varying stories from every decade, each one said with a smile on the face of the storyteller. You’ll get the same if you ask what they think of what is happening now. Some are sad to see it go. Some think it was way past time. Some wish it had been saved. Some have ideas for the future.”

Foster said she could see it from all angles.

“It’s a sad situation that it was neglected. It’s sad that historic buildings have to be torn down,” she wrote. “But I also have big hopes for the future of this property and want to see it be useful again.”

A lot of work was put in by town officials that led to the decision to pursue purchasing the buildings and having them demolished.

“If you saw some of us from the town standing up there today with big smiles on our faces, it was not for joy of losing these buildings,” she wrote in her post Friday. “It was relief from the work it has taken to get this done. I won’t go into details, but believe me, there were many hours that went into this process, meetings, paperwork, negotiations and agreements.”

Foster said she worked nonstop last week getting the requirements met for the state and was “on pins and needles” waiting on the final permit that was needed.

“But it’s worth it,” she wrote. “All the work that we all put in is being realized.”

She also thanked others for helping make it happen.

“It takes a team, and we make a good team,” Foster wrote. “Let’s get this one wrapped up and move on to the next.”

On Sunday, a pile of bricks from the buildings was placed in an empty lot at 101 W. Howard St. for people to take as mementos. They were asked to only take those and not enter the property where demolition took place because it’s not a safe environment.

Kelley Albertson with Albertson Excavating said the plan is to take away the rest of the rubble from the Armstrong Street site this week.

Foster said the most-talked-about business in the former two-story building was Snow’s Restaurant, while later on over the years, there was a junk shop, a computer store and a license branch.

With the one-story building, there was once a shoe store and a television repair business.

A picture posted on the town’s Facebook page of the downtown in 1958 shows Snow’s Restaurant along with a Chevrolet dealership, a couple of gas stations, a liquor store and more.

Several people shared their memories of the former businesses on the posts by Bridges and Foster.

Sabrina Hall said Snow’s Restaurant is where her sister, Pat, and late husband, Ben, met, while Lou Alice Wilkerson that’s where she and her late husband started a romance that lasted 59 years and six months.

Robert “Bobby” Miller said it was a great hangout place.

“Our favorite order was a nickel bag of chips and a 5-cent cherry coke,” he said. “We put ketchup on the chips.”

Ralph Hillenburg said Snow’s Restaurant “was definitely the place.”

“I loved this whole block of businesses growing up in the 1950s and ’60s — Hillenburg’s Supermarket was at the stoplight, Smitty’s Bakery, Masonic Lodge, Dr. Adair’s office, Snow’s Restaurant, Kattman’s Shoe Store, Garriott’s Chevrolet,” he said. “Wow! I could do the other side of Highway 31, too.”

Polly Pollert said she loved going to Snow’s Restaurant, her father worked at Garriott’s Chevrolet and Smitty’s Bakery had the best doughnuts.

Connie Howard Ridgway said she and her family lived upstairs when her parents owned what was known as Howard’s Restaurant in the 1960s.

“Great memories,” she said.

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