It’s ra-TONE, thank you var much. This town presents an unusual mystery - and we won’t get to that for a week.

Let’s take a look at Main Street - or, rather, First. See anything out of the ordinary?

No? Well, there must be something, because I marked this entire folder MYSTERY, and I must have meant something. Perhaps it’s the lack of another side of the street. You find arrangements like this when the street faces train tracks, and that’s the case here.


The nerdy kid in the propellor beanie hanging around the cool triplets:


The Golden Pule!

I don’t think it was connected to the Golden Rule chain. I don’t know if there was a chain of Golden Rule stores, but it was a popular retail name in the early 20th century. Biographies of J. C. Penney indicate that he controlled 34 Golden Rule stores by 1913. There was one in St. Paul, but it wasn’t connected to the Wyoming stores.

Hiya, Scout




If you’re going to paint the bricks, make sure the trim sums up a particular era and will hence date the rehab between 1987 and 2003:



If you really want to get into the Weeds of Architectural Speculation, here’s a look at the tile in the entrance:



Doesn’t it suggest that there was one door, angled?


I think this is about as nice a sight as we’ve seen in a while. Simple and clean and useful. There may be no one home upstairs, but the buildings are well-groomed and nicely coiffed.

Not a trace of Buckaroo Revival anywhere. So far.



So what’s the mystery?


First Kafka National Bank: there’s a small door just for you.



Interesting exposure of the horizontal beam. Lousy job with the doors and windows. Note the faint differentiation in the hue of the stone; the polychromatic effects were often subtle and ingenious.


nother view. Believe it or not, this wasn’t a bank. It was a hotel. The Palace Hotel. If you think it says “Smith” way up top, well . . .



. . . well, yes.

The Palace, a Romanesque Revival-style, stone building, stands on a corner lot. The Smith brothers, immigrants to the U.S. from Scotland hoping to gain wealth in the region’s coal mines, built the building in 1896. At the time of construction, it was the first three-story building in the county.


Again: nice. Too nice. Is that the mystery? Old Google Street Views show nothing at all until 2015, when all of this appeared out of nowhere, and people emerged from the buildings coughing black smoke and weeping strange words before they fell down and died?



Remnants of a sign that hung perpendicular to the building’s facade; holes in the lions’ mouths indicate they held up an awning,



The “New” Hotel.




Are you starting to notice that everything seems freshly painted?



Is everyone a Scout?



Is that the mystery?

Tune in next week.