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100 Years Ago

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Four Buildings in Sidney's Downtown Fire

There were four buildings that were rebuilt after the ‘Fire of 1914’ which destroyed the center buildings in the northern block of the downtown square. In addition to the First National Exchange Bank (today the Behr/Jones building) and the E.E. Kah building (Harris Jewelers), the fire destroyed Thedieck’s Department Store. I.H. Thedieck was a prominent merchant who was highly respected by many in the community.

Born in Germany to merchant parents in 1855, Thedieck moved to America with his family when he was just 16 years old. After attending public school in Dayton, he moved to Sidney at the age of 20. In September of 1875, Thedieck, entered into a partnership with Phil Raterman, opening a dry goods store in a small frame building. Business was so good that the next year the stock was moved to larger quarters. Philip retired from the firm in 1877.

Thedieck then entered into a four year partnership with his brother, Joseph. In 1882, with the help of his father-in-law, Mathias Wagner, the most influential man in town, Thedieck struck out on his own. Young Thedieck rented half of the space with W.H. Wagner, one of Matthias’ sons, occupying the other half.

This building and its entire stock of goods was completely destroyed by fire on March 19, 1914. Immediately rooms were fitted up in another building and business was continued. The new ‘fireproof’ building (formerly used by Uhlman’s Dept. store, now home to Furniture Express), had five floors, with over 45,000 square feet of floor space. The grand opening for the building was held on September 22, 1915.

Thedieck personally brought several businesses to Sidney, Ohio, including the Sidney Machine Tool Company and Monarch Machine. He was the driving force behind the founding of Sidney Telephone. He also shared his business experience with numerous businesses, including Whipp Machine Tool Co., Anderson Body, and the First National Exchange Bank.

General Amos, proprietor of the local newspaper, "The Democrat", penned a special tribute to Thedieck the day after his death. "Through his activities, he did more in a sound, creative way than any other man to here build an industrial community, which, without his efforts, would not have existed."

'Downtown' segment written in October, 1998 by Sherrie Casad-Lodge 


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