In the spring of 1865, Alexander and Susannah McKee moved their family to Centerville. McKee traded 40 acres of land, four horses, one wagon and a harness for a store, house and a lot where The Continental now stands. The building was originally arranged as a hotel and was known as the “Jefferson House” or “Wagon Home” in 1866.
In 1892, the building burned to the ground, resulting in the death of Susannah McKee. The hotel was rebuilt in 1893, and the superstructure of the building has not changed since, although the businesses in it have. Most of its life, the building has served as a hotel until the early 1990s. But after years of changes and economic fluctuations, the building began to deteriorate, and soon the roof collapsed, allowing animals to inhabit the building. The Continental seemed destined for demolition. This action, many feared, would be the beginning of the end for Centerville’s business district on the “World’s Largest Town Square.
In 1996, a successful business man and native to the Centerville area, Morgan Cline, returned to the square and saw the beauty in The Continental. With a love for old architecture and his generosity, he restored the building. Today, The Continental operates as two businesses. It is both an apartment building for the well-elderly as well as one of the area’s leading restaurants.Drake is a duck billboard which recognizes the historical relationship between former Governor Francis Drake and Centerville. Francis Drake, a Centerville native, had a successful career as a lieutenant colonel, governor, businessman, banker, lawyer, railroad builder and founder of Drake University. The Drake billboards highlight interesting places to visit and display local history that connect the community to world events. At each Drake location, there are maps pointing out all of the places Drake can be found.