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Scott Block - 301- 311 W. Main Street

Volunteer members of the Design Committee with the Madison Main Street Program have helped to share the story of Madison's historic district once again. Annually, volunteers research historic commercial buildings to share Madison's rich history within the historic landmark district. The Scott Block is a significant architectural structure on Madison's Main Street.

The history of every building in Madison can be told through the people who owned, worked, or lived within its walls.

These walls have witnessed 180 years of American grocery store history. Before cars and supermarkets, just about every corner in Madison had a neighborhood grocery. Wholesalers supplied these small grocers, including, from this site: three generations of the Niklaus family followed by the three generations of the Scott family.

John Niklaus started his wholesale grocery business in 1870 in "the old store." In 1884 his son Edward G. tore the "old store and residence" down and had the grand new, still standing, present-day building built.

Valentine Dehler and his wife Katherine sold clothing, shoes, boots, and wholesale groceries at 301-309 in the 1890's-1920.

Elmer E. Scott purchased the business from Edward G.'s son Larry in 1906. Elmer E. held off the threat from supermarkets through the depression years. Elmer E.'s sons Perin and John, in their day, and still today, granddaughter Penny and great-granddaughter Michelle no longer grocer, but still cherish the Scott Block, which is so full of Madison History.

Penny Sanchez told this story in 2022 about her grandfather and father.

"Pickles, back then, came in a barrel, not in a jar. Dad went to this one corner grocer who ordered a barrel of pickles. When dad went back the next week, the guy said; "those pickles are ruined!" And dad looked around and said, "Well, Mr. So and so, you have them sitting beside the stove. That's the problem, they can't stand the heat." Dad then when on to say; "What's your order for next week?" Nothing. So they next week, dad went back again to the grocery, but again, nothing.
He told his dad, Elmer E. this story; "Daddy, he wants me to take these pickles back, but he's got them in the wrong place. And now he isn't ordering anything!" Grandpa Elmer said; "Perin, the customer is always right. You go get those pickles and you take him some new ones." Dad started to say "They're not..." Grandpa Elmer E said; " go take him new pickles and bring those back..."
So dad did, much to his chagrin. And amazingly, the customer had a large order the next week! Dad always said; "that is the story I've always used in my business. Keep that customer happy!".

This same mentality of "keeping that customer happy" is practiced by the downtown Madison shops.

An Early Chamber of Commerce, the Madison Post Office, Valentine Deler's Shoes and Boots, a fraternal organization for African Americans, the Knights of Pythias, basketball teams, and innumerable small businesses have shared these walls.

The Scott Block is currently the home to several businesses.

  • Red Peppermint: Madison's favorite frozen yogurt, ice cream, and dessert shop.

  • Madison Buy Sell Trade: Your shop for gold & silver, jewelry, coins, video games, toys, comics, cards, antiques, musical instruments & more!

  • Madison Art Club: A dedicated gallery in Madison and a prime location for fine art in Indiana.

This project was completed thanks to sponsorship from the Arvin Sango Foundation, Indiana Humanities, and Indiana Landmarks. Thank you to Michelle and Penny Sanchez for letting this committee tell the history of their building. Thank you also to the Jefferson County History Center for providing historical materials used by Artist, Donna Weaver. Thank you again to Donna for working with Madison Main Street to create this display.

Stay tuned and look for this banner in Madison, Indiana.

We can't wait to see you in downtown Madison!

Madison Main Street Program

Austin Sims

Executive Director, 812-274-0385


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