Just beyond the old city limits, the western edge of the original townsite near the Muskrat River, Agincourt Avenue makes a gentle bend to the right as it crosses the river and then returns to its westward course. At least it did until Highway 7 was relocated in the 1940s. But that’s another story, about the Fennimore County fairgrounds.
I don’t know the earliest occupant of that site formed at the northwest corner of the avenue and NW Sixth Street, but by WWI there was an early tourist court and a small convenience store. Forrest Culp and his daughter Myra ran the place for thirty years or more. The store was close to the corner with a few cabins tucked behind, but a grassy slope eased gently toward the Muskrat, unassigned space for activities that cycled with the seasons. In spring and summer they sold bait (for quick fishing breaks in the river or weekend excursions to the lakes); later, in summer and fall it became a de facto farmer’s market for fresh produce from out around Fahnstock. During the Depression, Sheriff Pyne convinced the Culp’s that their bank was a good place for the homeless and itinerants to set up camp—out of sight but not out of mind.
Behind the cabins, a narrow irregular strip of land stretched north between the city limits and the river. Forrest Culp owned an apple orchard there, until a fungus infected most of the trees and the rest had to be burned. I’m not sure what happened to the Culps. Myra took up with one of the Mooney boys from Pocahantas and Forrest went to live with them, just in time for Agincourt’s first “suburban” development—The Orchard.
Culp sold a slice of his property to developers who just happened to have an option on four adjacent outlots. Together, they were divided into sixteen lots, eighty-five feet wide and from 200 to 400 feet deep. Drive north on Sixth Street today and enjoy some of the city’s best examples of 40s and 50s ranch style architecture. I’m anxious to design a couple of them myself. One of those houses, by the way, came from the pages of Your Solar House.