Architecture -
Heritage and History

300 East Cerro Gordo, Decatur

©2007 Rene Corcoran

In early 1907, David F. Riddell died (1), and his company, D.F. Riddell Grocery Co., a wholesale distributor, was sold to the National Grocer Co. in May of that year.(2) Their home was printed in ads as being at "Cerro Gordo and Franklin Streets." In 1919 advertisements, the building pictured above was listed as their business address(3). Over the years, they advertised Canada Dry Ginger Ale and Clicquot Club Beverages; Budweiser Barley Malt Syrup, used in baking breads and muffins; Nagroco Flour - a contest held in 1907 for which top prize was $15 in gold; Algood Oleomargarine; Apella Apple Juice; and Baltz Quality Love-Bird, a line offering a variety of sauces and mayonnaises for use on puddings, and in vegetable and fruit salads.

The company known as the Decatur Paper Company was started about 1930 by a Mr. Irwin and ran in this location until it merged with Unisource in the closing years of the 20th century. Aerial phtographs show this building located on the north side of Cerro Gordo between N. Franklin and N. Jackson Streets, backing up to the Norfolk Southern railroad tracks. In the years since, the building has been variously used by different businesses, one of the most recent painted on the side in large white letters - Good's Furniture Warehouse.

©2007 Rene Corcoran

When I was a young girl growing up in Macon County, my father, John W. Pace, worked in this building. My parents were newly married when they came to Decatur and Dad got a job in the warehouse unloading trucks. Later, he got a promotion as an inside salesman. He said that the building has five floors in the front and four in the back. An elevator ran the entire height of the building, and the forward part of the basement actually extends out under the sidewalk in front of the building. Note the small windows at ground level on either side of the front steps. Lots of big beams and wooden floors reveal the beauty of this architectural treasure.

Charlie McKenzie was responsible for outside sales and was the wholesale manager. Others who worked there during my dad's employ were:

Pat Harrington, Manager
Tom Fears and Bob Smith, salesmen
Bud Edwards, warehouse office, preparing orders for shipping, routing for delivery or pickup
Matt Eckert, fine paper - worked with his brother Frank
Doris Wendling, office
Jim Powers, truck deliveries and warehouse work
Don Massie, outside sales
Jim Bernhardt, outside sales - my Dad was with him in the Marine Corps
Lyle Harris, office manager and credit manager
Tom Eubanks, paper cutter for Matt Eckert
Warren Merrick, outside sales
Jess Weiters, salesman
Nancy Hargis, office
Kay Lydick, office(4)

I never met anyone who knew more about paper products than my father and he passed on to his children a deep appreciaton of fine papers and things made of paper.

1. David F. Riddell - Obit
2. The Daily Review, 23 Apr 1907
3. The Daily Review, 14 Mar 1919
4. Interview - John W. Pace, employee Decatur Paper House, 1954-1970

Text by Gayle P. Jones

Photos graciously submitted by Rene Corcoran

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