During my Michigan Road trip last weekend I passed through South Bend, where the north-south road becomes east-west. It enters from the south on Michigan St., turns west downtown at LaSalle Ave, and after a block and a half curves onto Michigan Ave. on its way to Michigan City. Well, at least that street was originally called Michigan Ave. Carl Fisher’s efforts put it on the Lincoln Highway and gave it its current and more famous name, Lincoln Way West. This is an old part of town, as the brick cross streets testify. The building in the photo below, Lincolnway Foods, was originally an A&P store; both my mother’s and father’s families shopped here in the 1950s. It has been an independent grocery since 1980 and still a busy place as I had to wait for several customers to enter or exit before I could take a clean photo.

Lincolnway Foods

This store burned down Friday morning. These photos are stills from WSBT-TV’s coverage.

The roof is said to have caved in, which caused an exterior wall to collapse. One firefighter was injured when the wall fell on him; another firefighter was also injured fighting the fire. The fire is said to have leveled the building.

It’s not like this building was a historic landmark. And judging by comments left by readers of the South Bend Tribune‘s article on the fire (which I’m not going to link because it will go behind a pay wall in a few days and you won’t be able to read it anyway), the store was not known for cleanliness or neatly stocked shelves. But this grocery in all its incarnations has been a fixture in this neighborhood for decades, and it’s sad to see it destroyed.

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2 responses to “Lincolnway Foods burns”

  1. Ryan Avatar

    I totally agree with your last sentence. To me stores like this are important… from A&P’s to Super Wal-Marts. Currently a McDonald’s sits where an old A&P was in Elm Grove, WV (right across from the Shepherd’s stone mansion). It may sound silly to some, but there’s something about those old stores that is special.

  2. Jim Avatar

    I have strong sympathies for the preservationists. I hate to see a grand old building in decay or, worse, under demolition. I like to see even fairly common examples of old architecture, such as this grocery, preserved if possible. But I don’t know how you save everything.

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