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West Main Street Commercial District

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Late 19th century–1930s. W. Main St. between Dexter and Kidd sts.

Commercial Italianate features, such as pressed-metal cornices and elaborate window hoods, give downtown Ionia an authentic High Victorian charm. Many of the two- and three-story buildings from the late nineteenth century are constructed of locally produced light yellowish-brown brick or pink sandstone. The two-story, two-unit Silver-Graff Building is clad in randomly coursed pink and gray rock-faced granite fieldstone (1894; 313–317 W. Main Street). Second-story bay windows near the ends of the facade rise to form octagonal bell-roofed towers. The bays, towers, cornices, and parapets are of richly impressed galvanized metal.

Some of Main Street's distinctive buildings date from the early twentieth century. The Ionia Theatre (1931; 205–211 W. Main Street), marked by a towering Art Deco neon sign, stepped parapet, and marquee, is accessed through a single-story lobby that is flanked by one-story storefronts. Originally constructed by W. S. Butterfield Theatres for vaudeville entertainers, the theater shows films and hosts meetings, stage shows, and symphony performances.

Writing Credits

Kathryn Bishop Eckert

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