11 South Madison
The stores and other commercial buildings had formed a lineal pattern on the two block area of East and West Main
Street for nearly 60 years. Residential property crowded the business district on West Main Street and industrial
buildings to the east of the district forced businessmen who wanted new stores to look at the side streets adjacent to
the main commercial area.
In 1885, A. R. McKinney and his wife, Mary Anne, already owned the building on the south side of the lot at 13 South
Madison. They used the building that is now 13 South Madison as an art gallery and residence.
That same year, they purchased land from Isaac M. Bennett and Lloyd L. Pullen in the next lot north through the real
estate firm of Rowley & Pullen. The price paid for the 26 x 53 ½ foot lot was $400, according to reports in Evansville’
s two newspapers, The Evansville Review and the Enterprise.
It was the rear portion of the corner store property Nelson Winston and his sons rented from Bennett and Pullen.
The Winstons were leaving the mercantile business and the lot at the rear of the store was prime commercial
property in an expanding business district.
To make room for McKinney's new block on South Madison, the Winstons removed an old shed that stood on the
grounds and sold it to a farmer to use as a tobacco shed. McKinneys paid $400 for the land in August 1885.
They planned to put up a two-story brick store, 26 x 55 feet. In October 1885, they borrowed $1,000 from L. T.
Pullen and began to build a new store that was wall to wall with the building they already owned.
Thomas Baker, a mason, took the contract for building the two-story brick store. He had advertised in the local
papers that he did first class mason work in either brick or stone buildings "at the lowest living price". The McKinney
block is one of the few structures that he was hired to build.
The local newspaper, the Enterprise, reported that the cellar was being dug for McKinney's building in late
September. Starting a building so late in the year was considered foolish by many who believed that cold weather
would prevent completion.
However, the doubters were wrong and the contractors worked through November without any great trouble from the
cold. William Libby, a popular local carpenter, was hired to do the wood construction on the building. Floors and the
roof were in place by November 17. The plasterers began the interior finish work that same month and by January
1886, McKinney was moving into his new store.
The McKinneys had been Evansville residents for many years. Mary Anne McKinney was a native of Hope, New
York. She had arrived in the Evansville area in 1854 and grew up on a farm two miles east of the village.
A. R. McKinney and Mary Anne were married in March 1867. From 1876 to 1882, he operated a photography
business in the building that adjoins 11 South Madison. For the next few years he operated a grocery business and
Mary Anne ran the largest dressmaking business in Evansville.
After the new brick store was built to the north of their original building, the grocery business opened first and a few
months later the couple opened a new restaurant, called an "eating parlor".
Many traveling salesmen ate at the new establishment. The business was crowded with "respectable appearing
traveling men almost daily, especially at dinner," according to a local report. The McKinneys operated their
restaurant only a few years, and then rented the building to others.
C. A. Libby opened a newspaper and job printing office in the McKinney block in 1889. C. A. Libby’s Enterprise and
Tribune ran in competition to the Evansville Review.
The newspapers were originally published by the Evansville Publishing Co. in the early 1880s. The Board of
Directors included such popular businessmen as Allen S. Baker, Thomas C. Richardson, Nelson Winston, Caleb
Snashall and Martin V. Pratt. The company opened with 200 shares of stock sold at $5 a share with a total capital of
C. A. Libby had started a monthly paper called the "Pudding Stick" in July 1881 The Board of Directors of the
Evansville Publishing Company hired Libby as the editor and manager of the newspaper, The Enterprise, later that
same year. The Enterprise was issued each Wednesday and Saturday. The Saturday edition was later named the
Libby's first newspaper office was located above Snashall & Mygatt's store on East Main Street. It was the first
printing company in Evansville to use power machinery, the Prouty Power Printing Press, manufactured in Madison.
For a short time the newspaper was located in the Baker Manufacturing Company buildings. When Libby moved the
Enterprise and Tribune into the McKinney building, he had found its permanent home.
In just a short while after the newspaper moved in the building was up for sale. The McKinneys believed they owned
an attractive commercial property and in January 1890 advertised it but there were no buyers. Finally, four years
later, their only son, Fred and his wife Lily purchased the property for $1,800. Nathaniel Libby, the original
carpenter-builder, held a mortgage for $600.
In July 1894, the Tribune reported that Fred McKinney was making some valuable improvements to the building but
the following December, the property returned to Mary Anne's ownership.
In September 1894, a small fire was reported in the building. Caleb Libby had a small engine that ran the printing
presses. Because the engine was hot after running all day, and he was afraid of starting a fire in the building, Libby
carefully checked the area surrounding the engine before he left work for the day. Libby said he had checked all
around the engine for embers and poured water all around the floor surrounding the engine before he left the
building after his day’s work.
However several hours after Libby left the building, the McKinney’s, who lived nearby, discovered smoke. The
McKinney men were able to extinguish the fire before it was necessary to call the fire department. However, there
was damage to the building and Kosuth Morgan, a local carpenter and Isaac bring, a mason were hired to repair the
Caleb Libby eventually purchased the building himself. Libby was a native of Great Falls, New Hampshire, and had
moved to Evansville in 1855, when he was nine years old.
When the Civil War broke out, Libby was just 14 years old and he waited until 1864, to enlist in the 40th Wisconsin
Infantry organized in Madison. During his time in the war, he contracted a chronic disease and was affected by it for
the rest of his life. However, his involvement in the Civil War helped him to supplement his income. Libby served as
a pension agent for soldiers who tried to collect disability benefits from the U. S. Government, after the money were
offered in the 1880s. The pension agency added a small income to Libby's other business ventures.
Libby also ran a real estate agency and insurance office out of the McKinney's building on South Madison Street. He
offered both life and casualty policies and represented a number of national companies. The store also served as a
book store, magazine subscription office and a job printing press office.
In February 1899, Caleb Libby agreed to purchase the McKinney building for $1,500 and he promptly had to get a
mortgage for the same amount. Over the next few years, he mortgaged the building twice.
H. L. Austin, a real estate agent, who also loaned money on property, rented rooms above the Enterprise office. He
advertised that he would do notary work, mortgages, drawing of deeds, releases, abstracts of title and other paper
work related to property transactions.
The newspaper business continued in the Enterprise offices. In his editorials, Caleb tended to be conservative in
promoting civic projects. He was more likely to promote private funding of projects such as the public library and
putting water pipes into city residences, than the more liberal Review and Badger newspapers who supported a
combination of taxation and private financing.
Libby died in 1908 and his wife and children sold the store at 11 South Madison the following year to John Lemmel, a
harness maker. The Lemmel family held onto the building for the next 29 years.
The man who had purchased the McKinney block, John Lemmel, was a harness maker who was born in Germany in
1855. He came to the United States at the age of seventeen and lived with his uncle in Albany where he went to
school and learned to speak English.
When he came to Evansville he went to work in a harness shop and eventually bought one of his own. He died in
1927 and his sons, Dr. John Lemmel of Albany and Paul Lemmel, formed a corporation as partners in the ownership
of the property.
The newspaper business was sold to George Meachan who continued to operate the business out of the same
building that Libby had used. Meachan's editorship of the Enterprise was short lived and within six months, William
Everill had purchased the publishing firm. The Review had survived all of its competitors and just three years after
Libby's death, the Enterprise and Tribune were out of business.
In 1912, a baker operated by C. L. Sturdevant moved out of the building that Lemmel had purchased and a new
meat market called the "Cash Meat Market" opened in the old Enterprise building. W. H. Bliven was the proprietor
and the Evansville Review noted that he had everything arranged in an attractive way.
Renters in the building changed frequently. In 1913, the Lemmel building became a car showroom and dealership.
Bruce Townsend had been in business with ? Hyne on East Main Street. When they dissoved their partnership,
Townsend moved into the Lemmel building.
In July 1927, the Lemmels rented the building to C. A. Mueller for a harness shop, but within a year, he had sold his
business. Then they rented the building to another harness maker, Lawrence Hansen. He was also an immigrant,
having been raised in Denmark. His uncle, who had lived in America, persuaded Lawrence to return to the States
with him. After arriving in Racine, Hansen worked for seven months ten hours a day shoveling coal at a dollar a day
so that he could pay his passage to America.
During World War I, Hansen joined the U. S. Navy and when he was discharged he worked in Illinois for a short time,
then moved to Evansville in 1928. He purchased Muellers harness business and stayed in the Lemmel building for
ten years. In 1938, he moved out of the building to a new location at 26 East Main Street. By this time he had added
shoe sales to his business.
The building at 11 South Madison was sold by the Lemmels in February 1938 to Marion Jones, Michael Finnane and
Bryce Baird who were co-partners in a dry cleaning business. Baird and Jones were to run the business.
For a few weeks, Baird worked at the Zoric Dry Cleaners in Madison to learn the business and Helen Bly also worked
in the same plant to learn to operate the steam electric iron. The new owners hired Ed Gibbons as their tailor. He
was responsible for measuring and fitting a line of men's clothing sold in the store. The owners purchased a truck
and offered pick-up and delivery of cleaning to Evansville residents and those who lived in neighboring towns. The
store was opened in April 1938. By November, Baird had left the partnership, leaving Finnane and Jones as the
A year and a half later, in November 1939, Don Every rented half of the building from the partners. He opened a
photography service in the building. He sold supplies and organized a local camera club to encourage amateurs to
learn to take pictures and develop film. Every also took portraits in his studio.
In August 1942, Marion Jones became the sole owner of the building, buying out Finnane's interest in the property.
Jones rented to the store to a variety of businesses including the Flemings Electric Store. Henry R. Runke of Fort
Atkinson bought out Flemings stock and moved into the store in May 1951. He and his wife moved to Evansville and
they named their new enterprise, Runke Appliance Store. They sold Westinghouse appliances and Minnesota paint.
Several years later, the store was returned to its original use as a restaurant. Jones rented the first floor of the
building to Lee and Doris Ringhand for a soda shop. They served malts and other refreshments.
The owner, Marion Jones also opened a business called the Exchange Store in the building. He sold the property to
Ronald and Jean Petterson in 1972 and they opened a bicycle shop in the building. A "watch cat" was a permanent
resident of the shop.
Bikers from all over the United States used the bike trail that went through Evansville. Stopping for repairs or
supplies, the bicyclists included individuals, families and bike clubs. Several years later the Pettersons moved their
bicycle shop to 24 East Main Street where it was more visible to travelers. The Madison Street property became
their new antique shop.
The store was called "From out of the Past". The Petterson had collected antique furniture for many years and
decided to furnish the building at 11 East Main with the antiques and also sell antiques on consignment for others.
They arranged the furniture in room settings and the collection included a pump organ, pie safes, coffee grinders
and other old fashioned items.
In 1987, the building was sold to Jean Petterson's mother, Pleasy Berg. The building became the site of local artist,
Jim Patterson's gallery and today is the "Creative Touch" shop which features the works of local craftsmen, floral
designers, and artists.
The building is now owned by Richard Modaff and houses the Modaff Appraisal business on the first floor with an
apartment on the second floor of the building.