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LaGrange neighbors look back on 137 year history of burned down building

137 years after they stood towering over downtown LaGrange, these historical buildings lie flat at ground level where their foundation was first laid down in 1880.

“It’s a piece of history that’s gone…. So it’s…. It’s sad,” said Rita Lehner, GIS Coordinator at LaGrange County Courthouse.

After a fire broke out at the Family Dollar store Tuesday morning, firefighters worked tirelessly for two days to put out the flames and save what they could of the landmark in LaGrange. Now, townspeople are left looking back on its history.

“The building on the corner was banks, at least three banks and they’ve had at least three businesses in there since then. Years ago the top floor used to be used as a ballroom or a dancehall,” said Lehner.

But Rita Lehner, who’s lived in LaGrange her entire life, 65 years, is remembering the good times over the recent bad.

“When I was little that Farmers State Bank was the bank I had my first account as a little kid. My first savings account,” said Lehner.

She says before the Family Dollar next door was a Family Dollar, it was a candy and toy shop.

“The old W.R. Thomas dime store and it was there for a long time and it was a place where you bought candy! I’d walk past the dime store going home, stop in and buy a candy bar, eat it on the way home,” said Lehner.

And the history that these buildings hold, she says she will never let escape her childhood memory or her lifelong community, and that they will carry on.

“The dime store’s always been a dime store. It’s sad. A piece of history for downtown LaGrange, its gone and that part of it we’ll never get back but hopefully we can get something built back in there that fits and we move on,” said Rita Lehner.

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