Exposing old facade stirs memories of Perry two generations ago

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The address of the former Conklin Jewelers at 1102 Second St. in downtown Perry will soon make way for a new address: 1202 Willis Ave.

Tuesday’s removal of the aluminum fascia and exposure of the old Conklin Jewelers facade awoke local memories of Perry a generation and more ago as demolition continues at the La Paris Est. 1869 LLC building at 1102 Second St. in downtown Perry.

Jacqueline Riekena and Davin Roberts of West Des Moines bought the 11,000-square-foot property Nov. 1 and have been busily demolishing the long-neglected commercial space to make way for planned improvements.

“This is probably one of the coolest things on the outside of this building,” Riekena said Tuesday. “The C O N K L I N letters are not for sale. The letters will reside in the building permanently in another visible area.”

Del and Helen Conklin started their Perry jewelry business in 1946 and moved to the store at Second and Willis in 1960.

According to Judy Marckres of the Perry Historic Preservation Commission, the new location “on the northeast corner of Second Street and Willis Avenue provided a showroom large enough to not only handle bridal registry and gift items but also Baldwin organs. The Conklins’ middle daughter, Juli, took over management of Conklin’s Jewelers until its closing.”

Riekena’s plans for the business include a smokehouse, tea room and a number of other enterprises.

“Tomorrow there is another layer coming off,” she said.

2 COMMENTS

  1. I was privileged as a high school student to work for Mr. Conklin in the store from 1965-1967. He was an excellent employer and taught me job skills that kept me employed when I went off to college. So in a way you might say that he put me through college. He was also a very nice gentleman. And the popcorn lady on the corner outside the store’s main entrance meant that break time always included a treat. 🙂

  2. My fiancé and I shopped for my engagement ring in Ames, where we were in school, and the jewelry stores in the big city of Des Moines, and where did we did find the perfect ring? At Conklin’s in my hometown of Perry, of course! Del showed us a variety of settings and stones, and we trusted his wise counsel. Still wearing it 48 years later!

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