Looking Back – Ewing Restaurant
This is a circa 1974 photo of the southwest corner of Monument Square in Urbana showing Ewing’s restaurant and cafeteria.
Ewing’s was not only well known in Champaign County, but throughout west-central Ohio. The Pooler family operated the business which included a cafe and bakery. Often, on Sundays at noon, customers would line up at the entrance at the corner of Miami Street; once inside, they often found Carl Pooler himself cutting up a prime rib. At the end of the line, uniformed waitresses met customers at the cash register and carried each tray to a table.
Ewing’s served large family meals on special occasions, such as the Christmas holidays, on the second floor of this building.
In the mid-19th century, the third floor of this building served as a meeting space known as Union Hall. It was the site of theatrical performances as well as church bazaars and political speeches.
In 1863, the Ladies Aid Society of St. Paul’s African Methodist Episcopal Church in Urbana, on the occasion of the celebration of the Emancipation Proclamation, arranged for Frederick Douglass, the great abolitionist, to speak at Union Hall. However, it is unclear whether Douglass spoke there, as there is no documented account of having done so. In 1910 there was a cinema in this building, presumably on the third floor.
An interesting note regarding the building is that “Willcox & Gwynne” is engraved on a cast iron support column inside. It may have come from a local foundry, as members of the Gwynne family were Urbana’s first prominent merchants.
The Champaign County Historical Museum is a non-profit organization that depends on donations and membership fees to preserve, protect, archive, and display the artifacts that tell the story of Champaign County. The free public museum located at 809 E. Lawn Ave., Urbana, is open to the public Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
This is a circa 1974 photo of the southwest corner of Monument Square showing Ewing’s restaurant and cafeteria.
Information from the Champaign County Historical Society.