Tuesday, January 20, 2009

End of an Era - Scott's on Decatur Road

Eavey Market - 1957

Dear Kroger,

I had several folks email me today to tell me about your decision to close the Decatur Road Scott's Grocery Store. I was stunned. Speechless. I was so distraught about it, that I actually called my husband up and ranted at him on the phone.

Although he has absolutely no attachment to the South Side of Fort Wayne (like I do – he’s a North Side’r), he understands why I’m upset about this decision.

You see....back in 1956, a man named Henry J. Eavey had a dream. He wanted to build the country's largest single-room grocery store and he wanted to do it in Fort Wayne. On a location just across from U.S. Highway 27, an 80,760 square foot supermarket was erected.

How cool was that?

But it got even cooler than that.

He wanted his store to be seen from miles away and what better way to do that than with an iconic symbol - a food-filled cornucopia.

And when Don Scott bought Eavey's in the late 60's, he understood that this iconic symbol was a part of the attraction of what made the Decatur Road location, a neat place to shop. He had it cleaned up a bit, switching the names out (of course).

As a little girl who grew up on the South Side of Fort Wayne, driving by the Decatur Road Scott's was fascinating. For the longest time, I thought the cornucopia was a dragon (you know - like Puff the Magic Dragon). It would be many years before my grandma would break it to me - Krissie, they call that a cornucopia...you know - like a horn of plenty?

Yea - okay - I guess so. If I turned my head a certain way , I could see that BUT I still thought that Puff the Magic Dragon was a much neater explanation.

Kroger - did you know that about a decade later - that cornucopia was battered by storms (and possibly a tornado?) that made its way through Fort Wayne? Yep. And you know, Don Scott, he could have said to himself - heck - that thing is just a nuisance. It's comin' down permanently. But you see, he didn't. Why? I'm assuming it's because he knew that that darn cornucopia is a big darn deal to us Fort Wayne folks.

Seriously.

It's like - you don't mess with Coney Island - you don't jack with Powers - and you certainly don't screw with the cornucopia.

So now, you're closing Decatur Road Scott's and I'm sitting here in my little ole house in Fishers, Indiana, fretting about the future of the cornucopia. I kid you not. If you destroy one of the most iconic symbol's of Fort Wayne, I don't think that I will ever forgive you.

If you allow a place like The Dollar General Store to move into that building and bastardize my cornucopia, you will break my heart into a trillion pieces.

Seriously.

If you destroy the cornucopia because you lack an understanding of its importance to us, you will break my heart into a trillion pieces.

Seriously.

So please respond and let me know what your plan is for our beloved Fort Wayne piece of history. If I have to go out and raise funds to save it - I will. If I have to stage a roof sit-in - I will.

Please do not take away/destroy another piece of my childhood.

9 comments:

Joe said...

Amen!

Dan said...

I'm up for a roof sit-in.

Kevin Knuth said...

bad news-this was in today's JG:

The large cornucopia adorning the front of the building is anchored with steel that extends from the top of the horn into the foundation, Kroger Co. spokesman John Elliott said.


Elliott didn’t know of any plans to preserve the sign. And he expressed doubts it could be saved without destroying part of the building.

Bob G. said...

Kristina:

I'd like to say it will survive in some fashion, but something tells me otherwise.

They opened a new Family Dollar across Decatur Road about 2 years back, and IT'S been robbed several times ALREADY.

Personally, I like the wide-open parking lot...less chance to be "taken advantage of", unlike the claustrophobic parking at the Southgate Krogers.
And if you follow the FWPD reports, there are a LOT more crimes at SOUTHGATE than at the Decatur Road location.

Funny thing...not WORD ONE from ANY city councilmen...NOTHING AT ALL. All I DO hear are crickets (and in THIS cold, that ain't easy).

Just another way to take something away from the SOUTH side...
And if it wasn't FOR the SOUTH side in decades past, we wouldn't have a NORTH side...would we?
(according to the history of this town).

Over the last 10-12 years, we've lost a'plenty down here....(can't blame Bush for THAT)...but we CAN blame the crime (and the criminals that bring it with them) along with the FWHA, HUD, and the city admins who have turned the other cheek for ages.

Last thing we need down here is another "dollar store" (where hardly anything IS a dollar anyway).

Moving AWAY from Ft. Wayne looks better and better with every closing store we see.

Great post, Kris!
Ditto on the A-Men!

(Just wish someone would listen for once.)

B.G.

Kristina said...

Please everyone - call your city council person - call the Kroger media guy, John Elliott - 317-538-1495 - who has contacts with ARCH?

Damnit - I'm gonna call Ian Rolland in a minute too ;).

PMX said...

This is my first comment for your wonderful blog.

I am very angry that this store is closing. I've been shopping under the cornucopia for many years now. The store is always clean and well stocked. There are always plenty of check-outs open, everyone is very helpful, and the management could not be better or more approachable. I shop Thursday nights and leave around 9:00 p.m. and I've never had any problems, and when it is dark there usually is a manager looking out for me.

The nasty Kroger at Southgate is very different, like night and day. The Kroger Co. has lost a loyal customer. I will take my business to the new Walmart at Southtown. Better that than going to a dirty store that I do not feel safe at. What a hideous decision they made.

I am very ticked that city "power players" have not stepped up to bat to protect our city landmark. It is again obvious that we on the south side just do not count.

Anonymous said...

The saddest part about this has less to do with the cornucopia and more to do with the sorry state of Fort Wayne. If the only thing we're worried about is an old sign, we're missing the real issue here.

When it opened, Scotts on Decatur Road was known as the largest supermarket in the world. They had a three story coffee grinder, made their own ice cream and had a pool so kids could swim while parents shopped. Life Magazine did a profile on the store. That store wasn't the only significant thing that happened in Fort Wayne. Just about everybody from here knows the other stories of innovations that started in the Summit City.

Back in those days, Fort Wayne could do big things because there were individuals who had vision who didn't think about limitations. Back then, people honestly believed that Fort Wayne could be a world class city, no matter what side of town you were talking about.

Saving the cornucopia may be winning the battle but losing the war. If the sign survives and the store stays empty, it'll be another example of urban decay on the south side. The south side of Fort Wayne doesn't need another tombstone honoring the good old days like the Hillcrest Drive In sign on Tillman Road.

It might be more interesting to think about how we might save the cornucopia and revitalize that whole neighborhood.

How might ten acres of real estate be used in a new way that might harken back to the time when the old Scott's store was a tourist attraction that attracted international attention?

I know the economy stinks and we're all worried about crime.... but what if we were able to both save the cornucopia and the community too? Other cities do stuff like that all the time.... Isn't it about time the south side of Fort Wayne thought about how they might turn this problem into an opportunity?

Kristina said...

Anonymous - I couldn't agree more with you. Everything you posted - yes yes yes!

I'm having an issue though. I can't get one Fort Wayne leader associated with the Southeast side - to give me the time of day.

I guess maybe I need to go sit on their doorstep?

Or perhaps, they are afraid of offending Kroger because the economy is so fragile and because Kroger is keeping folks employed...

Anonymous said...

Looks like the cornucopia may be leaving us. I've heard that the cornucopia is scheduled for demolition next week. Mayor Tom Henry, several city concil members, a host of news media and a half dozen bag pipers will be there. It's one last chance to say good by to a Fort Wayne landmark.