By Wendy Etuk
At the Rushville City Council meeting held on December 18, 2012, the council reviewed submitted bids to repair the roof of the Corder building on Main Street. The fascinating history of this 73 year old building piqued my interest. It seems like the building was always part of the Main Street scenery; we walked past it numerous times and paid little attention to it at the time. While researching the building, I came across the newspaper articles that were printed at the time. They contained photos of the building, of Rose Corder, and much more. The first article I found was published in May of 1940. It mentions the wrecking crew tearing down old buildings to make room for the Rosa Corder building.
The next article I found describes the building. The following is an excerpt of the Sheridan County Star, December 5, 1940.
Outside of some of our very largest cities, perhaps, we seriously doubt if a more substantially constructed, beautifully finished and well arranged public rest room for ladies can be found than the M. Rosa Corder building which is being opened to the public Saturday for the first time.
Built by the General Contracting Company of this city during the past summer from funds bequeathed for the purpose by the late M. Rosa Corder, the building stands as a very worthy monument to the gracious pioneer lady.
Having resided in the ranch country to the south with her brothers for many years and using Rushville as a trading center, Mrs. Corder fully realized the need for such a place here.
The two story and basement building is modern in every respect. The upper floor is a five room, ultra modern apartment designed to be used by the matron who will look after the building.
The entrance to the ground floor or rest room part is through an iron grill gateway, somewhat typical of the Old South, Mrs. Corder’s native land.
The front of the building is of Silverglade Stone. On entering the first room is a large lounge or rest room. Glass brick windows furnish the light in this room, the walls are finished two shades of tan enamel with a tan inlaid linoleum on the floor. Furniture in this room is chrome steel upholstered in reds, yellows, blues and greens. Window hangings have been hand woven by the students of Oglala High School at Pine Ridge where really beautiful weaving is done. Of soft wool, they are made with stripes matching the bright colored furniture in the lounge room. Here too, is a full length mirror and a magazine case, magazines will be contributed by people of the town....From the lounge a door enters the toilet room. Here the floor is of white tile, the walls are of tan tile. Here are mirrors, lavatories, and all toilet facilities. Leading from this room is a smaller room which will be furnished with a couch, table and chairs. This little room, away from the others was designed as a place where any lady feeling ill, or with perhaps a small child who needs rest and quiet may relax. Curtains for this room are also being made by the Oglala High School. Light fixtures throughout are of modern design and harmonizing coloring,
The article goes on to tell of a light, roomy basement with a laundry room, and cool fruit room. Also from the same paper----
The 1940 Christmas season officially gets under way in Rushville Saturday. The street decorations will be in place and the committee composed of A. Johnson, Cal Fry and Sam Brown, have arranged new and attractive ideas for this year.
The headline attraction for Saturday’s program‘s “Open House” for Rushville’s new public buildings. Seven public buildings, all of them built this year or within the past few months, and whose aggregate cost comes to nearly $200,000.00 will be opened for general inspections. In the case of the M. Rosa Corder Rest Room and Modisett Club dedication ceremonies, presided over by Reverend Kreps, will be observed. The dedication ceremony will take place in front of the Rest Room, on Main street at 2:30 o’clock Saturday afternoon. The Rushville high school band providing a musical program.
Included in the “open house” will be the following buildings. The accompanying figures represent their completed cost:
Morse Memorial Church $35,000
Morse Memorial Library $15,000
Cravath School $60,000
Modisett ball Park $7,500
Masonic Temple $25,0000
Rosa Corder Rest Room $25,000
Modisett Club $10,000.
From the June 6, 1940 edition of the Sheridan County Star newspaper: Mrs. Corder who followed brother, A.R. Modisett to Rushville shortly after he arrived there on horseback, was devoted to the ranch country. She believed it the only place to live. Death a year ago spared her knowledge of the sale of the ranch she had loved for so many years.
Rosa Modisett Corder arrived in Sheridan County with her family in 1886. She helped run the Modisett Ranch with her brother Albert. Coming from a wealthy family, she adapted to life as a pioneer woman very well. She was married, divorced, and childless, and as a result the ranch became her life. She is said to have been a very structured woman who enjoyed being at the helm of the ranch house. It was kept immaculate and wonderful meals were prepared for the help and family. Her visits to Rushville must have prompted her desire to build a “ladies rest-room.” One can imagine the visiting lady’s choices of rest-room facilities at this time in history.
Rosa believed that life should be enjoyed after hard work was accomplished. Her love and belief in Rushville prompted her wonderful gift. Rosa died in 1939, and her will was read and executed. The process to begin her “rest-room” building began in April of 1940 by purchasing the property on South Main. Her will goes on to say that the remainder of the estate should be bequeathed to the City of Rushville in a Trust Fund, and that the net produce or income be paid to the City of Rushville for general upkeep, maintenance and improvements to the M. Rosa Corder Rest Room.
Today, the building stands rather forlorn and shabby. Several windows are boarded up, paint on the woodwork on the balcony in the back has peeled off to bare wood. Inside, from what can be seen from a window, is the bannister with beautiful carved wood. The tiled steps leading to the second floor are cracked and chipped.
In an effort to stop this deterioration, and possibly restore the building to its former glory, the Rushville City Council is hoping to begin restoration of the building, starting with its leaking roof, provided the funds are available to do so.