The Corner Cafe
I often ask friends to share their memories of Walla Walla buildings and sometimes ask for ideas of what building to write about. Diane suggested the one at the corner of Main and 2nd, "the one with all that decorative stuff all over it." She had an ulterior motive, Diane did; she had a fond 1960s memory involving hot chocolate--with a scoop of ice cream in it--served in that very building, and couldn't remember the name of the restaurant. Number Two West Main houses Paul Richardson Agency now and it has a very business-like look to it, and I was intrigued by what changes it had been through over the years. My research told me that the corner building was part of the Quinn Building (which I wrote about before.) It was occupied in 1876 by Marum and Doheny's Dry Goods Store, who advertised "All Goods Marked in Plain Figures", but "sold exclusively for cash." When the dry goods store moved in 1901, Tallman's Drugs moved in and stayed there until 1912 when they moved their pharmacy to a bigger space next door.
Up to the Times Magazine wrote a feature on 2 West Main's 1912 occupant in its Progress Notes:
|The Third National Bank before the facade was added.|
The bank occupied 2 West Main for eight years before they remodeled and created the facade of the building we see today. Up to 1920 the front had been handsome, although not outstanding.
|Third National Bank after facade was added.|
The Third National Bank wanted a building everyone would notice, and embellished the exterior with features that resemble those you might see on a cake or fancy pastry. They did extensive remodeling to the inside too. The bank only enjoyed their distinctive building for nine years though, because by 1929, the Third National Bank was no longer listed in city directory, and Alfred Fitzgerald, Jeweler, had his shop there until 1933. This was the year that the building first became a place one could get a meal; Pinky's Barbeque moved in and was followed by Mitchell's Barbeque in 1935. Mitchell's featured "Fountain and Lunch, Cigars, Magazines, Card room."
And then in 1941, Mitchell's left and the Corner Cafe, "The House of Good Food" opened. It lasted until 1973, so it is a place many Walla Walla citizens remember. My friend Carolyn had her bridal lunch upstairs in the Corner's Kuaui Room. Diane and Alan had their romantic hot chocolate and ice cream date there. As a boy, Jim went to his accordion lesson upstairs over Tallman's and then always had a coke at the Corner Cafe afterwards.
When the Corner Cafe closed in 1974, it was back to business for 2 West Main: Jeffris Insurance Agency was followed by Munn's Surveyors and today we find Richardson Appraisers there. I stood downstairs in the Richardson Agency and tried in vain to imagine where the booths, counters, and fountain had been. Upstairs I tried to envision the Kauai Room, but I wasn't successful. The inside of the building is now desks, phones, and computers. The outside of 2 West Main, though, with its distinctive ornamentation, still makes an architectural "statement"--even after all these years.
Thanks, Joe Drazan, for the illustrations and photographs of the Third National Bank and the Corner Cafe.