History comes to life in Grundy Center: Guided walking tour will take visitors on a journey through GC’s past

Shown above is the old Popcorn Stand in Grundy Center; once a staple in the downtown area, the popcorn stand is now a thing of the past. (Public domain photo)

GRUNDY CENTER - Get ready to be transported to a different era. On Thursday, October 11, community members will have the chance to take a walk into Grundy Center’s past during a brand new event: “Spirits of Downtown Past.”


The event, which is sponsored by Main Street Grundy Center, will consist of a guided walking tour through downtown Grundy Center, focusing on five wellknown businesses during the 1950s. The walk will feature local actors portraying the likeness of these five business owners, and will tell the story of what it was like to live, work and play in Grundy Center nearly 70 years ago.


“We focused on key businesses and business owners from the downtown of the 1950s,” says Cindy VanWert, who researched and planned Spirits of Downtown Past with committee members Sandy Noble and Kathy Zeiner. “This era was an exciting time in the town’s history. Many new businesses were opened in the years after World War II. Baby Boomers were born and were starting school. A collection of new entrepreneurs was meeting the needs of expanding families and the farm community– by offering clothing and variety stores, entertainment, and eating options in downtown Grundy Center.”


The walking tour will focus on the following five businesses from the 50s: Dudden’s Men’s Clothing Store, the Center Theatre, the Popcorn Stand, Feller’s Variety Store, Farmer’s Savings Bank and Don’s Tire and Appliance.


Actors portraying the business owners will share details about the building where their business was located, the history of the business, and other memories of 1950s-era Grundy Center.


Community interviews, library research, and local historical collections provided the information for the scripts.


Tickets are needed for the walking tour. Ticket holders will be grouped into small groups, and will walk together among the five locations to hear the historic stories. A limited number of tickets are being sold, and are available from City Hall, at the Grundy Center Historical Society Museum on October 3rd through 5th, and online from mainstreetgrundycenter.com Proceeds will be used for future programs and promotion efforts to boost Main Street Grundy Center efforts on behalf of the community.


After the walking tour, community members will be treated to a 50s and 60s music concert from Smitty and Nuala, performed on the gazebo, as well as a Classic Car Show around the Courthouse Square.


Main Street Grundy Center Director Lisa Bienfang invites the community out to a fun evening in Grundy Center, and a walk down memory lane.


"Our community is rich with architecture and stories of ordinary people who led extraordinary lives,” she said. “Main Street Grundy Center is proud to help tell these stories and connect them with the beautiful buildings we are fortunate to have in our downtown. The volunteer committee has worked so hard to put together a fun and educational event for all ages to enjoy. Main Street’s mission is economic development through historic preservation - with the historic walking tour, the car show, entertainment and food on the courthouse square, and shops open late; we bring lots of people downtown and build pride in our wonderful community.”


For more information, visit mainstreetgrundycenter.com.