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The Carthage Press
  • Jennys give Grand Avenue corner new look, new purpose

  • The project is far from complete, but the progress has already turned heads.
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  • The project is far from complete, but the progress has already turned heads.
    The corner building at 1101 S. Grand Avenue was previously Fast One Hour Cleaners, but Mark Jenny's restoration intentions lean more toward the original purpose of the building. In the 1930s-1950s era, the corner served as a Skelly Filling Station under the leadership of Luther Gowin. When Jenny purchased the building and started the many renovations, Gowin's granddaughter, Nancy Adams, 66, was thrilled.
    “I'm really excited about it,” Adams said. “I can't even tell you – thinking of Grandpa's filling station … Sometimes he would let me wash the windows, but he didn't think that was a lady's thing to do. I remember always thinking how attractive he was in his uniform. He was a licensed mechanic and took it serious. I always felt proud of him; it was his delight. He was a hard worker. This just means the world to me.”
    Luther was married to Nellie, both originally from Walker, Mo., and he passed away in 1979 at the age of 90. Adams said all her fond memories of that station were when it was a Skelly, but before that it was a Gulf Filling Station.
    “There's a picture of Grandpa shaking hands with the Mayor of Carthage, and that was in 1936,” Adams said. “Mark is very nice man, and he's come into contact with gentlemen who used to work for my grandpa.”
    Indeed, Carthage artist Larry Glaze is a huge supporter of the renovation. As a high school freshman, Glaze pumped gas at Skelly and is now helping with some décor for the new facility. As the renovated building takes form, Jenny said art and memorabilia are going to play a big role in the purpose of the location for local hot-rodders.
    “We want to create a good place in the community to meet and hang out,” Jenny said. “I'm planning on this part of the building to be my mechanics shop [directing toward the east side of the building] and this [front entrance] will be the showroom. We're collecting pictures and information about this building and already had a great response from the community.”
    Currently hanging in the showroom is a Challengers sign, a Carthage car club from the 1950-1960s, on a two-sided Pegasus Mobil sign. The nostalgia of the sign is exactly what Jenny is looking for. It hangs right next to the “Skelly Code of Principles.”
    “We want to be a blessing to the community and put a smile back on this corner,” he said. “We want to keep the restoration going, adding new while keeping some of the old. It's a great corner. I like things that have history, and a story that goes with it.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Jenny moved to Carthage from California in 2007. He bought the building in December 2013 and immediately started working on it with his wife, Wendy, who has been a motivator and hard worker in the renovation.
    They removed all of the cleaners machinery and piping, stripped the front entrance and found the original framework, and built up the west side of the building to make it uniform.
    The light poles in the front were shortened by 12 feet, and at night, the showroom is illuminated with a Conoco sign.
    A new ceiling is needed, and in the near future, Jenny hopes to add a front patio area – perfect for Maple Leaf time.
    If anyone has anything they wish to add to the showroom, drop by the corner – Jenny is usually there on the weekends. Or, leave him a note on the door.

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