I must apologize for the major lack of posts lately. Along with the Independence Day holiday, I've been rather preoccupied with a project: salvaging the pressed tin ceiling from the old Aloys Store in Aloys, NE, which was torn down on July 8. The Aloys Store was a very interesting place with a fair amount of known history, so I thought it would be worthy of its own post here.
It's believed that the wood frame portion of the Aloys Store was constructed in about 1898. The brick addition was completed in 1924.
The portion to the far left housed a residence for the proprietors. The middle was a grocery and general store; the brick addition to the far right was a bar. This photo was taken when the store closed in 1996.
The interior of the bar portion of the Aloys Store before I removed the ceiling. The elements had taken a pretty good toll on the building, especially since it closed 13 years ago.
The design of the bar ceiling. It was rather difficult to successfully remove this ceiling without bending it beyond repair. A HUGE "thank you" to Bob from The Czech Cottage in Cedar Rapids, Iowa for his advice on this project! He was even kind enough to send me a few of the tools he used when he removed and restored a similar ceiling. Read his fascinating story here.
The interior of the bar after removal of the ceiling. Most other interior items were removed by this time as well.
A view of the bar area (after ceiling removal) facing the front door. The bar was located across the road from St. Aloysius Catholic Church and school. Locals tell about the men of the parish who would attend "Benediction" here while their wives and children taught and attended religious instruction!
The grocery / general store portion of the building prior to the removal of the tin ceiling.
The design of the ceiling in the grocery / general store area.
After the removal of the ceiling. The roof had leaked considerably more in this portion of the building, making the work of salvaging the ceiling much less pleasant and much more difficult. The locals told me the store had suffered a fire at some point, though they didn't know when or where. After removing the tin panels from the walls of this part of the store, the wainscot underneath was charred black. Part of the mystery solved. This fire was likely the reason why the ornate tin ceiling and wall panels were added in the first place.
Towards the front door of the grocery / general store area. I'm told that the post office was originally housed in the corner to the right, where the restroom is located.
In many ways, the Aloys Store was a precursor to the modern truck stop. It had, of course, a bar and general store; a full service gas station, truck scale, and dock for loading cattle.
There was even a combination water tower and bathhouse behind the store.
While it's difficult and perhaps even unfortunate to see these local landmarks disappear, what does one do with a building that is already thoroughly ravaged by time and the weather? I suppose the best we can do is save what we can, document, photograph, and keep telling our stories.