The Journal Gazette
 
 
Thursday, May 28, 2020 1:00 am

Changes at Barr Street Market in 1957

COREY MCMAKEN | The Journal Gazette

“Death Of A Landmark” appeared over a story in The Journal Gazette on April 30, 1957. The story and its accompanying photo chronicled “the beginning of the end for the north pavilion of Barr Street Market yesterday.”

The north pavilion had not been used in two years and was considered a hazard, according to street commissioner Art Gladieux in the JG story. As workmen began removing an estimated 50 tons of tile from the roof, their footsteps loosened sheeting that had sealed the underside of the pavilion for nearly five decades.

The Barr Street Market began operation in 1873 and included a small structure and stalls for rent along the street. The plot of land along Barr from Berry Street to Washington Boulevard was donated by Samuel Hannah to be used for a city hall and market house.

In the early 1890s, the market structure was taken down around the same time as City Hall (the building which is now home to The History Center) was put up at the corner of Berry and Barr.

Two open-sided, concrete and stone pavilions were added along the rest of the stretch of land in 1910 and had 120 spaces for farm stands.

The north pavilion, which stretched from the city hall to Wayne Street, was being razed in 1957 to make room for parking. The south pavilion, from Wayne to Washington, was razed shortly after.  

Some of the pillars from the market were taken to city parks for use in the construction of shelters.

After a period of inactivity, the Barr Street Market reopened Aug. 1, 1973, with about 4,500 people turning out for its first day, according to a Journal Gazette story at the time. But by the late 1990s it had waned again.

In 2005, Young Leaders of Northeast Indiana's preliminary plan to revive the market was given approval by the Allen County-Fort Wayne Historical Society, which owns the space behind the History Center. YLNI now operates the Barr Street Market on the northeast corner of the Wayne and Barr intersection. It opened its season this month and operates 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays.

The Fort Wayne Farmers Market, which usually operates 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays on the southeast corner of the Wayne and Barr street intersection during warmer months, will remain in its cooler-weather home of Parkview Field through at least June 6, according to its website.

History Journal appears monthly in print with additional items weekly on The Journal Gazette's website. To comment on items or suggest dates and topics, contact Corey McMaken at 461-8475 or cmcmaken@jg.net.

 

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“Death of a Landmark: Market Belches Soot As Razers Begin Work” (April 30, 1957)

A shower of tiling – and estimated 50 tons of it – marked the beginning of the end for the north pavilion of Barr Street Market yesterday.

By the end of the week, officials estimated at the close of the day, there will be an unobstructed sweep from City Hall southward to Wayne Street. The clearing is to be developed into a parking facility for municipal businesses.

The present twin Barr Street Markethouses are 47 years old. The north pavilion has not been used by producers for the last two years. The future of the south half of the market appears insecure, considering yesterday's development.

Workmen who clambered among the tile yesterday found a strange contrast of rotted and sturdy timbers. As a whole, they made the structure a hazard, Art Gladieux, street commissioner, commented. He is in charge of the razing operation.

As a result, the marketway was barricaded off to prevent the possibility of pedestrians being injured by the fall of flimsy sheeting which has sealed the underside of the pavilion for the last 47 years. Some of it was loosened by the workmen's footsteps yesterday.

The market is not as solid as it looks, Gladieux and Signal Supt. Robert J. Gaskill Sr. advised. The latter has been in charge of market maintenance for many years.

The structure at the south end, housing a scale house and rest room, is a concrete shell, including the roof capping. Inside the square concrete dome of the terminal structure, the timbers supporting the masonry are badly rotted away, officials said. The supporting posts are of brick, covered with stucco.

As the razing is completed, the rest room cubicle on the southeast corner of the north pavilion will be salvaged. It will have to be reroofed, however. And, the signal department must hurriedly install modern supports for traffic and walk-wait signals which are attached to the Wayne Street entrance of the north pavilion. Supt. Gaskill indicated that a steel post would be embedded in the street for the signal heads.

Supt. Gaskill recalled that the marketplace was completely reconditioned in the early 1930s with WPA labor. Weathered timbers were replaced and much of the roof removed. The broken tile were discarded and new ones laid. But the supply of replacement tile was limited; some of them had to be fabricated from concrete.

According to the best records available, the present market structure was constructed in 1910. The marketplace has been in existence since 1873, however.

Gaskill recalled that during the 1930s, a number of the market pedestals were replaced. This was a tedious operation, and special forms had to be constructed to replace the produce stands that had become badly weathered.

Officials said a few persons paused at City Hall during the day to protest the removal of the old landmark. The marketplace itself shed bushels of soot – it swirled with the spring breeze to plague both workers and pedestrians.

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“Pillars of Old Market to Grace City Parks” (Jan. 23, 1958)

Pillars from Fort Wayne's rapidly vanishing Barr Street Market became a sought-after commodity yesterday.

Street Commissioner Art Gladieux, whose crews are removing the 120-year-old city facility deemed a safety hazard, said nine of the 38 pillars were taken to Hamilton Park. Plans are to use them in building a shelter which will serve as a memorial to the market, a project conceived by Parks Supt. Howard Van Gunten.

Lions Club members applauded the idea, and at their suggestion another 12 pillars were dispatched for use at Lions Park.

Still another eight pillars were taken to Indian Village Park for possible use there.

So neatly did a City Light crane uproot the heavy pillars that only on was broken, Gladieux said. Several will be kept on hand for uses similar to that conceived by Von Gunten.

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“Reborn Barr Market Bustles With Buyers,” by Dell Ford (Aug. 2, 1973)

“More fun than a picnic!” was Angus Giant's off-the-cuff summation of Reopening Day at Barr Street Market.

Giant, who learned the ways of Barr marketing when he helped his grandmother (Mrs. George McCoy) as a lad of “8 or 9” and later became master of his own market stall, surveyed the scene yesterday and observed “This used to be a busy place, years ago.” He offered the opinion he doesn't believe it will be as busy the second time around “because they don't have the parking for it.”

Ample parking or no, the “lane” between stalls in the old market area adjacent to Fort Wayne's former City Hall was bustling with buyers and lookers shortly after sellers had set up shop at 3 p.m.

And Giant had to admit that while he and his wife, Marie, had come up just to look,” they had been put to work by son Angus Jr. His son, he said, had available “everything you want Corn, beans, cabbage, mangoes, squash, cucumbers, snow peas ... and flowers. He's about out of everything. We're going to fetch the truck,” the senior Giant added, “and get some more.”

Out, out, out appeared to be the opus of the afternoon and early evening for the produce pushers.

Jay Schlup opened his stall with 20 bushels of cantaloupe, 100 dozen ears of corn, five boxes of peaches and 41 30-pound boxes of tomatoes. The melons had been purchased withing two hours and the corn, he said, “lasted the record time of 17 minutes.” Shortly after 4 p.m. he was out of peaches and all that remained were some tomatoes.

When Joe Bahde's 35 dozen ears of sweet corn had been sacked and sold within an hour and a half, he left the market to get 20 watermelon. They were real biggies, all over 30 pounds, he said. It was maybe 4:15 that Bahde, who lives in Churubusco, was unloading the Southern-grown melons. At 7:30 p.m., he was collecting for the last quarter piece. Wouldn't sell whole, he said. Too big.

Shirley Mossburg of Fort Wayne was lounging behind a table display of leather goods and one box of broccoli. While the leather items (belts, purses, visor hats) were not moving so well, she said she'd come to market with a half crate of onions, 8 pounds of green beans, 10 squash, 7 heads of cabbage and 20 pounds of broccoli, all grown in the family's half-to-three-quarter-acre garden in the country. All that remained of the garden-grown vegetables was the tiny bit of broccoli.

The Barr Market hours have been announced as 3 to 10 p.m. Wednesdays. Ted Bowser, who brought produce in two well packed pickup trucks, wasn't sure – at 7:30 p.m. yesterday – if he'd have anything left to sell at 10 p.m.

Bowser, who sold produce, dressed poultry and eggs at Barr Market before it was closed nearly 16 years ago, explained that one of his pickups was packed with nothing by boxes of tomatoes and the other was used to transport other fruits and vegetables in crates “stacked seven high.”

At one end of the market area, a young lady was doing a fair business in cut flowers and California carnations while at the opposite end, Jim Chen and sons, Kyle and Tim, were likewise doing well in the egg roll and golden nugget business.

For the most part, however, it was fruits and vegetables that were being grabbed up on the initial day of the Barr Market rebirth.

And, as Angus Giant Sr. put it, “more fun than a picnic” pretty much describes the general atmosphere of the folks who made the first day festivities.

The market was still going strong by 9 p.m., a city official reported, with some farmers returning with second and third truckloads of produce to meet demand.

“Next week, we'll have things planned a little better,” E. Owen Donnelly, city director of community development and planning, said.

Donnelly, who was one of the major planners of the event, placed the crowd count for the day at about 4,500 persons.


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