In 1940, Centerville was dubbed “The Christmas City” by the Association of Commerce.
An assortment of wonderful decorations adorned the heart of the city. There were red and green six-foot-tall candles arranged around the square, and colored transparencies covered the street lights. All of these were connected by a bright string of colored Christmas lights running all the way around the square.
The courthouse and courtyard were also dressed up for the holidays. Each side of the courthouse boasted a different Yuletide scene. Every gable of the courthouse had a six-foot star, and in the clock tower red and green transparencies covered the normally louvered windows. But the most striking decorations were the eight-foot to 12-foot candles on every side of the grand building.
Letters to Santa were mailed with great anticipation. Boys were requesting red wagons and cowboy outfits and girls wanted dollies and toy telephones. Carolers were all over town, bringing joy to everyone. Santa visited the square and met with wide-eyed children.
The Christmas season in Centerville was magical, but on Dec. 15, all of the frivolity took a backseat when an ice storm passed through town, snapping power and telephone lines, making roads impassable. However, there was a beauty to it all that didn’t escape the notice of Harry Luther.
Harry Luther snapped the photo above that shows the square in its blanket of sparkling ice, covering the courtyard, the streets and beautiful Christmas decorations. Centerville truly looked like “The Christmas City.”
Information submitted by Lisa Eddy, curator, Appanoose County Historical Society, 100 West Maple, Centerville, 856-8040, www.appanoosehistory.com.