Opinion Matters

With Gazette Opinion Editor Greg Peck

Greg Peck: Intriguing looks back at downtown Janesville

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Greg Peck
December 4, 2014

I have a dozen or so readers who stay in touch with me from time to time through emails. Some are frequent letter writers. Others are dedicated readers of my blog. I was in touch with one such person last week. He's a former Janesville resident who lives out of state. He sent me the three photos you'll see here. I was impressed and asked him if he'd be willing to let me share them with my blog readers. He said yes, but instead of letting me give him credit for them, he asked to remain anonymous.

Many critics of Janesville's revitalization proposals remember when downtown was a thriving, bustling center of commerce. They argue it never will be what it once was. No, but that doesn't mean revitalization can't bring more people, events and business downtown. I would argue that progress has been made, and I have faith that better days are ahead.

While we await those days, check out these three photos. They remind me of those years when I was Sunday editor and The Gazette relied on the services of Maurice Montgomery from the Rock County Historical Society to supply us with photos and captions for our “Looking Back” photos. My out-of-town friend shot these three with a Kodak 35mm camera when he was a teenager. He thinks he snapped them in 1957 but says it might have been 1956.

The first one is at the corner of Main and Milwaukee streets, looking east, up the hill, on Milwaukee. On the left corner is Bell Appliance. The building on the right is the old Milner Hotel, which later was torn down. In the second photo, in the upper right corner, above the white car, is the old Gazette building, which was torn down to make room for the plaza in front of today's Gazette offices.

The third photo shows Main Street, from the same corner, looking south. My friend thinks the photo shows the names of all the stores on the east side of Main except for one, Cunningham Bakery, which he recalls as being before the Beverly Theater. He lists the others, from left, as Homestead Restaurant, Saxer Sporting Goods, Saxby's Mens Wear, Dells Cleaners, Weber Shoe Repair (a shop I remember, having arrived here in 1987), Beverly Theater, Harry's Popcorn, Pagel's Firestone Store, Biwers Shoes, Coney Island Café, then a place my friend thinks was Dorothy's Swirl and Curl, Larry's Café, and, at the far end, Anderson's Woman's Wear.


Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or [email protected]. Or follow him on Twitter or Facebook.





Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or [email protected]. Or follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

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