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Reviving the Past

Posted Thursday, June 30, 2011, at 2:01 PM

This dim photo is of Advance's Sturdivant Avenue, as it once looked. The photo, like many others, is not labeled--so I don't know the date. On the far right is the old bank, which still stands at this location but has no second floor. To the left of the bank is the building which I am trying to identify.
Rebuilding history

Lately, there seems to be a sort of revival going on in the small town of Advance in the northernmost ranges of Stoddard County. This renovation began in July of 2009, when the center of town was cleared for the construction of the new Cross Trails Medical/Dental Center.

What was torn down: The sad remains of the once-vital Masters' Medical Clinic (built in, I believe, 1952). The clinic had not been in use since about 1982, when Dr. E.C. Masters retired.

Anyway, when folks saw the progress that was being made on the new clinic, they seemed to take heart and start trying to fix up this tired old neglected town.

Sturdivant Avenue runs east and west through Advance, beginning at Highway 91--also known as Oak Street--and extending about five blocks west to Lone Oak Village, where it turns into Old Highway C. The tail end of Old C is another sad affair--so bumpy and neglected that I thought I was going to put a tire out the last time I traveled it. Old C ends at new C, which then takes you west to Arab, Zalma and Puxico.

Sturdivant Avenue (as former mayor James Harnes insists on calling it) is a shadow of its former self. Once the business district of Advance, the street is completely devoid of buildings on the south side. Almost all of these buildings have burned down, except for the old Prather/Corbin/Ward store, which used to be on the corner. Claud Corbin sold that building to the city for $10. The city considered using it for a variety of purposes, but when asbestos was discovered, they demolished it. The land sat vacant for several years but was eventually donated to Cross Trails Medical Center. Now a beautiful new building graces the center of the city.

Old Advance, as seen in the above photo

This photo shows the north side of the block. In 2011, Dandee Hardware, a prospering business owned by Deanna and Danny Brewer, is down to the left behind the tree (which is long gone). Next is the old Richmond Lumber/Partain Furniture store, which has been bought by the Voss family and turned into "Advance Wise Buys," a wonderful antique store. At night, the lamps make a golden glow, lighting up elegant sofas and vintage pictures on the walls. Next are two connected stores previously known as "Timbers" restaurant, once a nice place to eat. A piano repair shop is in one of these buildings.

The next store, which is really two connected buildings, was most recently owned by Juanita Holder. This is the one I'm trying to find out about.

The bank itself was the first building to undergo renovation, when Ginger and Ronnie Hewitt remodeled it into a beautiful boutique. Ginger has a flair for glitz, and she fills her shop with purses, jewelry, and customized shirts and baby clothes the likes of which you can't find anywhere else!

Former Mayor Harnes remembers Juanita's old building as being a two-story structure with a hotel upstairs and a restaurant and bar downstairs. He remembers it as a rather disreputable place. Today, there is no trace of a second floor.

Paul Corbin, soon to be 97, moved to Advance in 1945 to open his variety store, which he operated until the mid-70's. He remembers that E.T. Bird owned the building next to the old bank, and Dan Hammack had a grocery store in the adjoining portion of the two-store structure. He does not remember a second floor.

Adding information on Facebook, Liana Jenkins has fond memories of Hammack's grocery. She says that when and Tony were first married, Mrs. Hammack would give her advice on what Tony liked to eat.

Building has been renovated

A few months ago, the building changed hands, and last week, the painting of the store front was completed. To say that the citizens of Advance are pleased with this development is an understatement, even though the future of the building is unknown.

Will it be a restaurant, as many folks would like to see?

A donut shop?

The way things are going these days, it's more likely to be a second-hand store or a consignment shop.

I hope that's not the case, but I am heartened by the fact that we don't have to look at that peeling paint anymore!

From the somewhat improved downtown of Advance, Mo., this is your small-town reporter Madeline, grateful for each bucket of paint used to fix up this little town of 1301.

Showing comments in chronological order
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I love to see towns revitalizing themselves, whether with grants they've managed to get--or by the skin of their teeth and their own sweat and blood!

The quaint little town of Marble Hill has had some remarkable renovation to the downtown area in the last ten years. Their old bank is now a beautiful antique/second hand/gift store. I saw it the other day and didn't have time to stop (Actually, I had a DOG in the back seat), but I'm going to find out the hours next time.

I bought some beautiful old paintings at Wise Buys in Advance summer before last, when I was remodeling some of my bedrooms. Very unique items! I love the vintage Tarzan movie poster in a narrow frame! I put it upstairs in the green room!!

-- Posted by goat lady on Thu, Jun 30, 2011, at 2:41 PM

Advance will be an attractive town when all the changes are completed. Can't wait for a sidewalk cafe downtown by the park.

-- Posted by Dexterite1 on Thu, Jun 30, 2011, at 3:52 PM

Great to hear Advance is "advancing"!! The picture would appear to be early 50's, given the vintage Hudson or Mercury, semi-identifiable, parked in the background of the shot. Always like to hear about the home towns of so many friends and kinfolk in Stoddard County!!Regards from KC, kkr

-- Posted by kkcaver47 on Fri, Jul 1, 2011, at 12:32 PM

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Madeline DeJournett
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Madeline (Giles) DeJournett is the Advance writer for the North Stoddard Countian. A retired high school English/history teacher, she spent 32 years teaching in 5 schools in Missouri and Alaska. These days, she lives quietly with a menagerie of wild and domestic animals on 52 secluded acres in the remote Tillman hills south of Advance. She graduated from Dexter High School in 1960 and Southeast Missouri State in 1964. She can be contacted at advancensc@sbcglobal.net.
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