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Polk County Enterprise - Local News
Stories Added - April 2010
Copyright 2010 - Polk County Publishing Company

Judicial Center project unveiling history of downtown buildings

Polk County Enterprise


LIVINGSTON — Construction on the Polk County Judicial Center has many long-time residents searching their memory and official records to recall O.K. Grocery, whose sign has survived for years under a white plaster façade. Main Street Manager Bob Zeigler and Polk County Memorial Museum Curator Wanda Bobinger were continuing to research O.K. Grocery Thursday. Original construction on the structure historians refer to as the Greer Building began in 1912 and was finished in 1912, Zeigler said. “Greer Mercantile operated as a dry goods store just like on ‘Little House on the Prairie’,” he added. The glass block modifications on the north face of the building were likely done in the 1930s or 1940s, Zeigler said. Zeigler said he had asked several long-time Livingston residents about the building’s history, but no one recalls O.K. Grocery. One theory is that the sign painter’s work outperformed the business it advertised. Marshall Phillips, father of County Court at Law Judge, Stephen Phillips, operated a T.V. shop in the building for many years. He remembers a grocery store there, but it had a different name. Jones & Watts Grocery operated at the site before O.K. Former Livingston Mayor E. Joe Pedigo bought the building in 1977 from Bill Jones and Sam Elliott. “We all called it the Nixon Building then,” Pedigo said. He remembers Hazel Millken had a beauty shop on the first floor of the northwest corner of the building. Ross Hightower and Robert Willis were partners in a law office on the northeast corner of the Greer Building, where the glass bricks are visible. “Later Ross moved out and Robert stayed there by himself,” Pedigo said. Before the furniture business, the Pedigo family operated the bus stop café between the Greer building and the Ford building on the northeast corner of the block. “All the people from those businesses came in to eat and drink and tell stories,” Pedigo said. Livingston attorney J.C. Feagin had an office there, he recalls. Later a taxicab operation was headquartered there. A gas company operated out of the Greer building that Frank Gilbert later bought, Pedigo said. The upstairs offices were home to a number of seismic companies. A credit compamy that offered small loans also had offices in the building for a time, according to Pedigo. Some of the most colorful stories came from the time the upper floor of the building was home to a “go-go” nightclub in the 1960s. The walls were painted with psychedelic black-light paint, locals recalled. “There were a lot of restrooms up there too,” Pedigo added. “All the fun was over by the time I bought it,” he said. Although Pedigo and his family operated the bus stop and café for many years they never purchased that part of the block, he said. “We always rented from the Cochrans,” Pedigo said. When talks began about selling the site to the county prior to Pedigo Furniture’s move in 2003, Judy Cochran left the negotiating up to Pedigo, he recalls. “She had a lot of square footage, but no buildings, he said. “After the county bought it, we rented back the building on the corner for a warehouse for $120,000. The county came out pretty good on that deal.” Several of the 90-somethings that have been asked about their recollections about the site said their families mostly shopped at J.W. Cochrans. Local history expert Ruth Peebles said O.K. Grocery was in operation in the 1930s or 1940s. Allen Peebles said he seems to recall the name Laramore in connection with the building


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