Blog post by Hilary Fleck
While looking through our postcard collection, I found this photo postcard of Whetsell’s Shoe Store with an amazing reflection in the store window of the County Courthouse.
I looked through the directories in our Research Library and discovered that the store was located on the south side of the square at 107 W. Kirkwood Ave., what is now Mirth. I searched our collection database and found another, earlier image of Whetsell’s Shoe Store.
In this photograph, which is dated “1896” on the reverse, you can see a reflection of the second Monroe County Courthouse in the window above the door and the bell tower in the large windowpane with the shoe display. Through the open door behind Ed Whetsell, the owner of the store and whom appears in both images, you can see the tall wooden shelving laden with boxes of shoes ready for sale. If the date on the reverse of the photograph is correct, that would mean that the two images are at least twelve years apart because the construction of the new and current courthouse was completed in 1908. According to directories in our library, the entry for Whetsell’s Shoe Store no longer appears after 1926. An advertisement for the store claims it was established in 1885 and that it was the earliest dedicated shoe store in Bloomington and served residents for forty years.
The History Center’s collection contains a pair of women’s oxford shoes that were sold by Whetsell’s and has a store mark on the insole of the shoes.