The northwest corner of East Market and South Locust streets has historical and diverse roots in Urbana’s 217-year history. The now vacant corner has housed many types of businesses over the years, including a residential saloon combination building from 1885 in the early 1900s.
By 1910, the saloon had grown into a confectionery, ice cream factory, and several other small businesses in the former residential sections of 138 East Market Street. The ice cream parlor facilities were owned by the McCrery Creamery Company in 1914. The creamery was located at the southeast corner of Market and Locust streets and this building still stands today.
The living room fixtures at 138 East Market Street would be purchased by Mrs. Susan Williams in 1915. Mrs. Williams was the stepmother of William A. Mack, a native of South Carolina. Mr. Mack had arrived in Urbana from the South around this time and immediately began to make a name for himself as a community leader and businessman.
Mack continued to operate and improve the property and business under the name it operated under the previous owners as “The Favorite Ice Cream Parlor”. However, the current property had been acquired by the Benjamin Lodge a few years earlier. The Lodge was the community’s African-American Odd Fellows organization. In 1917, the Benjamin Lodge had announced plans to erect a two-story brick building on the site with two business rooms on the ground floor and a lodge room on the second. These plans were scrapped and Mack purchased the building where he ran his business a year later.
The Mack Ice Cream Parlor became the WA Mack Grocery store in 1922 and continued for decades. Mack operated his business for about 30 years in total. In addition to Mack’s entrepreneurship, he also served on the Urbana City Council, was a local NAACP leader as early as 1920, and served as a reverend before his death in Urbana in 1958.
Reverend Mack resided at 237 East Market Street at the time of his death. His funeral was held at St. Paul’s AME Church. He is buried in Oak Dale Cemetery.
A clipping from page 7 of the Urbana Democrat for Monday, July 20, 1914 shows an advertisement for the Mack Glacier.
An advertising clipping from page 2 of the Urbana Daily Citizen published on Friday, October 1, 1920 discusses a change in business for Mack Glacier.
The northwest corner of East Market and South Locust streets has historical and diverse roots in Urbana’s 217-year history. Mack continued to operate and improve the property and business under the name it operated under the previous owners as “The Favorite Ice Cream Parlor”.
Article from the Urbana Black Heritage Festival, www.urbanaheritagefestival.org and by email at [email protected]