Thursday, April 29, 2021

Busy riverfront

I WALK DOWN to Clat Adams Park on the Quincy riverfront a couple of times a week. It's always quiet. You have the mighty Mississippi and the two bridges and a well-maintained park to take in. It's worth heading down and up the hill from downtown.

It was a lot different this morning. The U.S. Army Corp of Engineers is unveiling its newest tug boat, Quincy, and it's docked at Clat Adams. The boat will be part of the regular river fleet. They are offering free tours all day and it's worth checking out. I noticed the Quincy Fire Department sent crews down there this morning to check it out, since they get sent to the river for water rescues. 

There was a city work crew doing work on several sewer drains by the Quincy Boat Club. There was another crew on top of the city water plant behind Native Wings on Front street, making all kids of racket. And, yes, there was a crew on the Quincy end of the Memorial Bridge, walking up and down with what appeared to be measuring devices and doing a lot of pointing and yelling. Hope they don't lose their voices, since the bridge won't be open again until December.

A local group has been hard at work working on redeveloping the Clat Adams Park area. Quincy and the Quincy Park District have long been proponents of sustainable and usable park space, but we have dropped the ball when it comes to the river. Smaller towns with way less resources have realized the importance and feasibility of tourism and recreation on the river. Quincy hasn't. And it's about time that changes.

The group has made major strides recently and they are to be commended for putting in a lot of hard work and envisioning better things for our riverfront. It was nice this morning to walk around and see and feel the energy along the river. Here's to hoping it continues.

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Spring is here

WE ARE SLOWLY but surely getting back to "normal" in the Q-Town. Proof is the Concerts In The Plaza resuming this Friday in the First Mid-Illinois Bank space at Seventh and Maine.

The talented Bella Song and friends will be performing at noon, and we'll have a concert every Friday for the next four weeks in the plaza. This was one of numerous events wiped out by Covid last year. The weather is supposed to be warm and it will be great to be outside and enjoy an actual live music event.

We encourage social distancing and being careful, because we are not out of the woods yet with Covid. But all signs point to improvement. In fact, Second String Music is implementing a new mask policy - if you have had your Covid Vaccine, show us your vaccination card, and you don't have to wear a mask in the store. If you haven't had your shot, please wear a mask and respect others who may also be inside.

Speaking of events resuming, Saturday is the return of the Dogwood Festival Parade on Maine Street. Again, the weather is supposed to be good and having activity again in The District will be a beautiful thing.

Get out and enjoy as we get back to normal!

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

More building history uncovered

 YESTERDAY STEVE HERRRINGTON and I were looking at a photograph taken in our Second String Music building back in the 1940s. Click here to look at the photo. We noticed on the top of one of our columns near the ceiling there appeared to be something painted around a gold frame.

Look what we found!
Steve works part-time for us, and as Sheryl is taking some time off this week, he and I have been talking about the building. Steve's father worked for Mercantile Bank for 60 years, and building was the home of Mercantile bank from 1905 to the early 1960s, with the main bank branch located on the main floor.

I've long wondered about the frames on the columns. They are covered in a brown cloth and I always thought it was maybe part of the bank's intercom system. There are eight of these frames on our main floor, with another possibly in the back.

So I took off the cloth on one of the frames by our front counter. Underneath was a piece of cardboard. And under the cardboard is a beautifully inscribed Mercantile Bank emblem. You can see the photo on the right. Amazing!

Why in the world would anybody cover these up? Perhaps an owner didn't want to be reminded of the bank. We also took off a plate in our 503 Maine space after we bought the building and discovered the Mercantile Bank sign above the bank vault.

The emblems appear to be hand-painted. If they were painted when Mercantile moved in, they'd be 115 years old. A couple of them aren't in good shape - somebody glued the cardboard to the surface, for some reason. We may leave a couple of them covered up to preserve them, but Steve and I will probably unveil the others today. 

You never know what you'll find in a 126-year-old building!



Wednesday, April 14, 2021

The bridge closes again, maybe

THE MEMORIAL BRIDGE between West Quincy and Quincy is closing for the summer. We think. The closure has been delayed twice, and now we are being told it will probably happen next week. It will be closed until November. Maybe.

I don't know anything about bridges. I do know we are spending $7.5 million to do maintenance and safety upgrades on the nearly 100-year-old bridge. Why it takes so long in anybody's guess, but I imagine it's tedious and possibly dangerous work, dangling above the Mississippi River. Bayview Bridge will now be a two-way road to and from Quincy to Missouri. 

When the bridge closed five years ago for similar reasons, Second String Music saw a big drop off in traffic and sales. You won't believe how many people come across the bridge and drive up Maine Street and say, "I saw your music store sign and we had to check it out." 

Because we are more established now, maybe it won't have as big of an impact. I hope we can get the District and the city to make sure the signage is apparent on Broadway and directs people south into the downtown area. Sheryl has given me the job of finding a way to encourage people to come to the store...

We also think it would be a good idea to turn both Third and Fourth Streets into two-way roads, instead of Third just going south and Fourth going north. But in Quincy, the Rocking Chair community, this would rock the chair too hard and there might be too many confused people going the wrong way, despite the big signs. Then we will probably start hearing about roundabouts installed on Maine Street and it would be total chaos.

We don't like total chaos. 

Thank you Bad Wolf Media for this stunning
sunset image. Mike Sorensen ROCKS.

So we'll have less people meandering up Maine Street at some point this summer. Meandering is a good thing and often translates into stimulating the local economy.

Here's to hoping the bridge opens back sooner than November. There is talk of building a new bridge over the Mighty Mississippi, and again we hope it would include direct access to Maine Street.

But for now, if you rely on the bridges to get back and forth across the river, be prepared for delays and the inevitable crash on the bridge to snarl traffic. Someday.

Friday, April 9, 2021

No more Red Light

IT'S SAD TO hear about the closing of the Red Light Bar & Grill, located just across the street from Second String Music on the Washington Park square. They are done after Saturday. They will be missed.

The Red Light was a great place to play music. It's a huge old bank building with high ceilings and sound that bounces around. For an acoustic act it was really good. For a band it was a bit more challenging but the atmosphere was always good and the owners took good care of the people who played. 

According the Chris and Kayla Griffin, the Red Light owners, they were told this week that the new owners are turning it into a bed and breakfast, and they've been ordered out after this weekend. This was one of the main reasons we bought our building from Dennis Prock 8 years ago. We needed to know we wouldn't be booted by a higher bidder.

I'll remember the great times playing music inside Red Light. I'll remember running over there to pick up lunch and talking with Chris, who was always smiling and upbeat in the face of tremendous challenges. We tried to support our local restaurants by getting food to go during the pandemic, and Red Light lunches were always good. I might have to sneak over there today or Saturday to get one more batch of chicken wings in the Naughty Sauce.

We've lost one of the few live music venues in Quincy, a good restaurant and a popular downtown destination. All our best go to the Griffins.