Today, instead of talking about something that we have here at Hometown Heritage, I am going to tell you about a building that many of you have probably seen here in Perry. The building in question is the Jones building. This building is behind Fareway, and has the word “Jones” carved across the top. Currently, the Jones building functions as a group of apartments. However, people did not always live in the building. So let us learn about the buildings history!
Before we can learn about what the original use of the building, it is important to learn about the man who built it. A man named C. Durant Jones is behind the creation of the building. He had a wife named Ida, and two kids named Horton and Lois. Jones was also a man of many talents. He was a newspaper publisher, a writer, a minister, a politician, a lecturer, a businessman, a temperance leader, a builder and contractor, a realtor, and a one point he was even the mayor. He also owned and operated the Jones Business College and a cement plant. Jones resided in Perry from 1904 to 1928, before he moved to Texas and hosted a radio show there. Now, onto the building itself.
Construction of the Jones building occurred between 1912 and 1913 by C. Durant Jones. He used reinforced concrete for the outside (which came from his own cement plant of course), and oak for the interior. However, how did people use this building when it C. Durant Jones first built it? Well, the first floor housed offices for the Chautauqua, and, maybe you guessed it, a college occupied rest of building. This college was the Jones Business College. The college did not last long, however, and it closed after 1921 and the building converted to apartments.
Now, many of you may be wondering what the Chautauqua is, since it was part of the building. I do not know much about it myself, but we do have a book about it here at Hometown Heritage. From what I can gather, the Chautauqua was a movement that started in the small town of Chautauqua, New York. A Methodist Episcopal minister started it along with an inventor named Lewis Miller. Chautauqua was, and still is, an educational movement, encouraging adults to continue learning and growing everyday of their lives. C. Durant Jones was a big supporter of this, and so he built the building not only as a college to continue people’s education, but also as a building to house the Chautauqua movement, which he organized in Perry in 1910 and incorporated in 1912.
So now you know all about the Jones building! Next time you happen by it, perhaps when you are buying food from Fareway, take a moment to remember what it stands for, and try to keep learning new things every day.