Monday, June 14, 2021

Schnack family ties to our building

 I WAS SWEEPING the sidewalk in front of our Second String Music building at Fifth and Maine last week when Drew Schnack came walking across the street. I've known Drew for many years, mostly from my time at The Whig when I wrote about crime and courts. Drew is one of the better criminal defense attorneys at town and he was always willing to talk after a big case.

"Hey, can I come in here for a minute?" he said.

Sure. We went inside. He said, "My grandfather was the president of Mercantile Bank when it was in this building. As a matter of  fact, he died in his office. Right. There."

Still here at 505 Maine ....
Drew pointed to the northwest corner of our first floor. It's been altered since Mercantile left in the early 1960s, but you can see where it was a corner office. Turns out Drew's grandfather, Drew Schnack I, died in 1955. Drew's father was Drew Schnack II, and Drew II and Loren Schnack had a law office in our building in one of the upper floors, as well.

"I just remember being in my grandfather's office when I was really young and seeing Washington Park through the window," Drew said. 

Apparently his grandfather died of a stroke in the office. We've had paranormal teams go through the building and people make claims about it, but I've never seen or heard anything really strange or out of the ordinary, although a 125-year-old building does make some pretty strange noises at night.

Drew asked if I've ever seen his grandfather. "He's about 6-1. Looks like me," he joked.

I showed him where the old counter was and took him back to the 503 Maine space, where the first floor safe with the bank name is still located. "There used to be an elevator back here somewhere," Drew said. That's in the 505 Maine entrance, and Drew went back in time when he saw it. "Man, we used to go up and down on that thing when we were kids to my dad's office," he said. "Wow. It's still here."

It is still here. It hasn't worked for decades. We both agreed it would be amazing if we could get it restored, but we just don't have the resources. It was built and installed in 1920 by Hollister-Whitney.

"Why don't they have any interest in getting it fixed up? Drew said. "You'd think they'd be interested."

They aren't. Several Hollister-Whitney employees have seen it, and we even contacted the big wigs over there, but nothing ever came of it.

Drew said he appreciated the visit. I learned yet more interesting information about our historic downtown building. And you know there are a million more stories and pieces of Quincy history just begging to be revealed at Fifth and Maine.

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