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Bits and Pieces: Shopping center had wide array of occupants

Bits and Pieces: Shopping center had wide array of occupants

College Hills Shopping Center used to be located on Beall Avenue next to Wooster Community Hospital. Today the hospital has expanded and the plaza no longer exists.

However, Wooster historian Harry McClarran made a list of the various College Hills business establishments he found listed in the 1957, 1962, 1967 and 1972 city directories. Which ones do you remember?

Occupying the plaza in 1957 were the Commercial Banking Trust Co., Omar Inc., the AP store, Moore’s, the Better Dress Shop, Royal Shoe Store, F.W. Woolworth, Skall’s Richmond Bros. Clothes, Grey Drug, James Hardware Co., The Party Shop, Steppe’s Beauty Salon, Allen Cleaners, Loblaw’s and Plaza Lanes Bowling.

Five years later there were three new occupants — Whitey’s Army-Navy Store, Hammond Organ Studios and Western Southern Life Insurance. By 1967 Perry’s Barbershop and Bennet Refrigeration were in business there and in 1972 you would have found Mad Rags Dress Shop, Monique Fabrics, Wooster Sewing Center, Sears Roebuck and Co. and Plaza Coiffures Beauty Shop along with the Sears Automotive Center nearby.

List of ’50s Realtors

Several years ago I ran across a booklet in a stack of publications stored on a basement shelf. The booklet marked Wooster‘s 1958 Sesquicentennial Celebration and was filled with fascinating photographs and historical information.

Among the items that caught my eye was the long list of real estate agencies that were in business 62 years ago. The Wooster agencies were George Klinger Realty, Clyde W. White Agency, Taylor Agency, R.C. Yost Agency, Eola Snyder, Landes Landes, Henry Massaro Real Realty Agency, C.C. Gault Agency, T.N. Cordray Agency, Neal F. Bowman Son, Clifford O. Beegle, Zella M. Austen, and Meier, Gerig Dunham.

Also on the list were W.W. Bodager Sons, Rittman; John K. Coffey Agency, Creston; J.W. Frye Agency, Rittman; Glenn Kinney Agency, Orrville; Charles P. Miller Agency, Orrville; Charles Wilson Agency, Rittman; and Dwight Schrock, Smithville.

Italian workers

The first Italian immigrant to settle in Wooster found his way to Wayne County around the time of the Civil War. His name was Raphael Massoni. There is no record of why he decided to leave his hometown of Lucca in Tuscany or why he chose to settle here.

During the late 1800s and early 1900s many more Italian immigrants followed him here and settled in an area of Wooster that became known as “Little Italy.”

Some heads of household worked as bricklayers, some worked for the railroad, others opened neighborhood groceries while others found employment in construction.

“In the early days of what is now Bogner Construction,” explained Don Bogner, “my grandfather, Theodore Bogner, employed many Italian immigrants. Since most of them didn’t speak fluid English, he had a lead Italian foreman who translated for them what needed to be done.”

Bogner said several time books from the early 1900s still exist. The century-old tomes list the Italian workers by number — Italian #1, Italian #2 and so on — but not by name.

“Of course,” Bogner added, “back then an employer could handle paper work very easily since it was before Social Security, withholding taxes and city and state taxes.”

FYI

Years ago there used to be a women’s dress shop in College Hills Shopping Center called the Cherry Tree.

Thought you should know.

Columnist Ann Gasbarre can be reached at agasbarre@gmail.com or 330-345-6419.