Created By: Madison Main Street Program
Here’s a fun way to find out how buildings in Madison’s business district were used from the late 1800s through the mid-1900s. During that time a company based in New York City produced a series of Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps. They were originally created for assessing fire insurance liability and were made for more than 12,000 cities in the United States. Today, they are a great resource for historical research.
In this close-up section of the 1886 Sanborn Map of downtown Madison, you can see the buildings along Main Street. Certain terms and abbreviations were used to indicate the type of businesses that were operating. The initials “B & S” at 110 E. Main indicate that Boots and Shoes were sold there that year.
Archival photos are also a great way to find out what businesses occupied the buildings along Main Street. In this 1890s photo, the name “Stanton’s Book & Shoe Store” can be seen painted on the west side of the building.
Newspaper advertising also helps trace the use of a building’s history and provides some insight into how the business attracted customers. In this 1907 ad, C. A. Stanton’s Sons advertised their store as the “Shoeists” offering the “Selby Shoe” as the “comliest, daintist ones that the hand of man can fashion for the feet of women.” It appears that their sales agency had their own way of inventing words and spelling them.
It’s always a real find to discover a photo of the interior of the store. This 1926 picture was taken to proudly show the improvements made to shoe store. An article in the local paper notes its new cream-colored steel ceiling (which is still there), new rock maple floor (also still there), fitting chairs upholstered in leather and made by the American Seating Company in Chicago, and floor mirrors. Take a look at all those boxes and boxes of shoes and boots lining the walls.
While other businesses along Main Street would come and go, records indicate that the building on this lot housed a boot and shoe business for 99 years. This 1949 newspaper clipping celebrates C. A. Stanton’s Sons longevity. Although the shoe store closed in 1957, the building remained under Stanton family ownership until 1976. As impressive as that legacy is, some would say it is more famous for what it became for only a few months in 1958.
The building was transformed into a Hollywood set as the Frank Hirsh Jewelry Store in Vincente Minnelli’s film, “Some Came Running,” starring Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Shirley McLain. Notice the warning on the movie poster indicating that the show is “not suitable for children.”
As you can imagine, everything associated with the movie was the talk of the town. In this newspaper clipping art director Urie McCleary and construction chief Paul Bryd discuss plans to create their movie magic on the Stanton Shoe Store.
In the left picture of this newspaper clipping you can see the results of the changes made to 110 East Main. The sign “Jeweler Frank Hirsh” hangs above the door. Other buildings in Madison were also remolded for the movie.
Another clipping shows local resident Harry Bump talking to director Vincente Minnelli. Minnelli was the husband of Judy Garland and father of Liza Minnelli. He directed many award winning movies including the classic musicals “Meet Me in St. Louis”, “Gigi,” “The Band Wagon,” and “An American in Paris.”
See Frank Sinatra standing in the doorway of what is now Village Lights Bookstore. The caption mentions the rumors of Sinatra’s rowdy behavior during his stay in Madison.
Big crowds would gather when filming occurred. The film resulted in several Academy Award nominations:
Best Actress: Shirley MacLaine
Best Actor in a Supporting Role: Arthur Kennedy
Best Actress in a Supporting Role: Martha Hyer
Best Original Song: "To Love And Be Loved," Music by Jimmy Van Heusen; Lyrics by Sammy Cahn
Best Costume Design: Walter Plunkett
This point of interest is part of the tour: Loft Tour