Here in Marceline, we call it the Zurcher building, in Disneyland, it’s referred to as Coke Corner, the resemblance is undeniable.
Built in 1899, the building originally served as a bank on the first floor and a meeting hall on the second floor. Elias Disney once held an oyster dinner for local apple growers in the meeting hall upstairs. He had hopes to organize the local farmers into a union, but was unable to gather their support. However, this did not keep the growers from eating the oysters.
The bottom floor soon became the location of a jewelry store, starting with W.S. Payne, who had been in business in the town from the very beginning of Marceline. His business passed on to Percy Wilkins in 1905. In 1908, Percy Wilkins took on newly-arrived Albert Zurcher as a partner, and sold the business to Mr. Zurcher the following year. Albert Zurcher continued to serve the community for an astonishing 64 years, selling not only jewelry, but also eyeglasses, cameras, TVs, and appliances. In 1973, he closed the doors of his business for the last time, and passed away in 1981 at the age of 98.
Sometime between 1905 - 1906, the Hutcheson Furniture store, located next door to Albert Zurcher's corner store, commissioned a Coca-Cola mural to be painted on the back end of their building. Although we do not have a written record of the exact time of the mural painting, I strongly believe the wall was either still being painted, or freshly finished when the Disney's arrived in Marceline, because this Coke mural left an undeniable impact on young Walt, that stayed with him through his life and materialized again with the designing of Disneyland.
This mural was a visible advertisement until 1919, when Albert Zurcher built onto the back of his jewelry store, creating a rentable space on the first floor and apartments on the second floor. The Marceline Post Office rented the space before relocating to their current location.
Zurcher’s Jewelry Store would have been a bustling business during the time the Disney family lived in Marceline. It was prominently located by the town center and was described as one of the most handsome buildings in town. The business served almost every need the town had, other than food. Jewelry, furniture, optometry, radios, cameras and later TVs and electronics. During Walt Disney’s time, he would have seen Santa Fe railroader workers making their monthly visit to have Mr. Zurcher certify their time pieces so that they could get paid. He would have been aware of Mr. Zurcher’s role in maintaining the official Santa Fe clock that synchronized regional railroad operations to those across the country. Mr. Zurcher would have been an imposing and important person to Walt.
While in Marceline, Raymond and Herbert Disney had worked hard on the family farm and had been promised a share of the profits when the harvest came in. But when Elias heard that Herbert was planning to purchase a pocket watch he had seen in the window of the Zurcher store, and Raymond had picked out a fine suit at Murray’s Department Store, Mr. Disney thought that was a terrible use of money. He decided to withhold their earnings and call it “money owed for room and board.” The boys were furious, and this would eventually lead to the end of the Marceline era for Walt. The older boys devised a plan to run away: late one night, they crawled out their bedroom window and hopped a train, they never saw Marceline again. Walt and Roy tried to help their father on the farm, but they were just too young and the work was too hard. It became obvious that it was time to sell the farm.
In 2019, The Zurcher Building was purchased by the Downtown Marceline Foundation and necessary renovations were done to help secure the longevity of the historic building. You can donate to the Downtown Marceline Foundation here. Your donation will help the foundation continue their mission to revitalize Marceline.
The first floor now houses a clothing boutique and the second floor is a newly remodeled vacation rental. Marceline boasts several lodging options, but the view from the second floor windows of the Zurcher Building, onto our Main Street USA, and across the street into Ripley Square, along with the chance to stay in the original Coke Corner, makes the Zurcher On Main Suites an excellent choice for your next visit!