As more settlers moved into the area, a trail between the settlements of Cedar Rapids, Solon and Iowa City developed along the line of our present north/south artery, State Street. It became a stage line road and, in the 1850's, a post road. Iowa became a state in 1846, most of the surrounding prairie was converted to farmland by 1859, and pressure was building for the establishment of a trading center to supply domestic needs and a market for produce.
|Ely - Looking down Dows Street towards State Street. Pre-1890|
|Ely Train Depot|
In 1903 the town was incorporated and in the first part of that decade many of the present buildings of the business district were erected. By 1910, the development of Ely's central business district, located primarily on Dows Street between Main and Walker Street, was virtually complete, its businesses providing the usual consumer staples and services.
THE POST OFFICE and THE GRAIN ELEVATOR
If you stand on the sidewalk in front of the handsome brick Post Office, you can still experience the underlying structure of turn-of-the-century Ely. It is characteristic of town growth patterns that the main commercial districts develop along the street connecting the railroad and the highway (State Street).
The below brick building is one of the oldest and most imposing buildings with its double storefront, cast iron supporting columns, and pressed metal cornices. It was built in 1889 as the Woitishek General Store and Grain & Livestock dealership.
On the right is the same building in 2004. Not much has changed and today it houses the Ely Post Office and a hair salon.
(Above photos) Across Main Street to the east lies the grain elevator; its solid timber-framed building, now sided with metal, was built by Joseph Woitishek near the end of the year 1900. It was sold to C. S. King about 1903. In 1910 Frank J. Krob and Wes Fiala, his brother-in-law, purchased the elevator. In 1952 Frank Krob sold out to his three sons and his son-in-law. This elevator is still in use by F.J. Krob and Company today. (Read a history of F.J. Krob Company)