Downtown Tire at 402 Second Ave. SE in Cedar Rapids closed in late December 2017, ending more than 50 years of Goodyear tire sales and automobile service at that location.
Interestingly, Goodyear Tire signs and Goodyear auto service businesses have been a part of the history of this side of Second Avenue SE in the downtown for just over 100 years.
Even more intriguing is the history of the building that had housed Downtown Tire since the early 1960s.
When you look at the building today, it appears as a one-story retail store along the sidewalk, with several auto repair garage doors along the “east” side of the building facing a parking lot. The structure has a mostly modern appearance.
What is startling to discover is that this longtime one-story building started out as a two-story building almost 110 years ago.
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Shortly after 1910, a group of Cedar Rapids physicians mostly occupied the new ornate brick, two-story building at 406-408-410 Second Ave. SE.
The new building, with a bracketed cornice and three storefronts facing Second Avenue, had replaced the old Wilcox family home that had stood there since the mid-1800s.
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The second floor of this new building showcased nearly three dozen large windows, many overlooking the railroad tracks. It was where Drs. Alvin Poore, Wesley Morrison, Ivin and Whelpley had offices. It also housed the Sam Beatty funeral parlor.
In 1916, one of the first businesses to open in the first-floor storefronts was the J.H. Fenton Plumbing and Heating Co.
In addition to the storefronts facing Second Avenue SE, the building had two storefronts facing the railroad tracks with the addresses of 114-116 Fourth St. SE. These were first occupied by the Cedar Rapids Wells Fargo & Company Express Office.
By 1920, the new structure was formally known as the Poore Building, named for Dr. Poore, who not only had his office on the second floor but also lived here, according to Cedar Rapids City Directory listings.
In the early 1920s, Irving Emery’s popular downtown grocery store opened in the storefront at 406 Second Ave. SE.
Next door to the Poore Building, closer to Fifth Street SE, were two newer one-story brick buildings. The one at 412 Second Ave. SE was a very early location for the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. just before 1920.
By the early 1930s, the second floor of the Poore Building had been converted into at least 15 apartments.
By then, the Parkson Cigar store and Lunch Room were operating in the former Emery Grocery storefront. After Prohibition ended in 1933, the New Parkson began serving beer and was a favorite gathering place.
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Two doors down, at 410 Second Ave. SE, was the Standard Bakery, operated by the Morris family from the mid- 1920s into the early 1940s.
SEARS FARM STORE
After World War II, the entire first floor of the Poore Building was converted into one large store. The three individual storefronts gave way to the larger Sears, Roebuck & Co. Farm Store with a changed address of 402-06 Second Ave. SE. The Sears Farm Store was a companion to the main downtown Sears Department store that was a block away at 313 Third Ave. SE. When Lindale Plaza Shopping Center opened in 1960, both the Sears stores closed downtown and moved out north.
Starting in 1961, the Poore Building was extensively rebuilt. The second floor was removed and the first floor converted into an auto repair service center. Only the exterior first-floor brick walls facing the alley and the train tracks were retained, as well as the limestone wall basement.
The two one-story brick buildings at 412 through 420 Second Ave. SE — including the one where Goodyear Tire had been located in 1916 — were demolished to create a parking lot for the new Downtown Goodyear Tire store and Auto Repair Center in the renovated Poore Building. This new Goodyear shop, with an address of 402 Second Ave. SE, opened in mid-1962.
Before then, an earlier Goodyear Tire Service Center had operated for many years down the street at 700 Second Ave. SE. After moving to 402 Second Avenue SE, the structure at 700 Second Ave. SE became expanded space for the Handler Motor Co.
Mark Stoffer Hunter is a research historian for The History Center in Cedar Rapids.
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