Washington City to tear down historic building for road expansion: Nissons to close in November

Washington City – Nisson Mercantile, located at the corners of Telegraph and Main Street, will soon be torn down. The “old store,” as it is affectionately called by residents, was built in 1917 by Calvin Hall; it has been a central hub of commerce and communication to the townspeople for 93 years. The Post Office was part of the building up till the 1930’s.

Quentin Nisson said he remembers visiting the Post Office as a child while it was located in the store. He attended school directly across the street from the store up till the eight grade. Then as a young man, he was drafted into the military where he would spend four years of his life. After World War II, Nisson purchased the store with his wife Gwendolyn.

“Rumors started six years ago about the city widening the streets,” Nisson said. According to Nisson it was about that time talk began that his store may be in jeopardy. The store is on the Washington City Historical list; however the listing is not sufficient to save the historic site. 

Eminent domain has been used by the government to obtain private property, using the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution as the legal fodder, under the simple phrase, “…nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” While eminent domain acquisitions are distasteful, the public usually accepts that property may need to be acquired for certain public improvements.

According to Nisson, he will be compensated for the loss of the building only, no consideration for future earnings or the property value. With the softening of the real estate market, the value is considerably less than what Nisson hoped for. He will retain ownership of the remaining portion of the land after the government takes what they need for the road expansion.

Familiar with public service, Nisson severed as mayor of Washington City for 14 years beginning in the 1950s. According to Nisson, besides being mayor he has a great love of music and has served as a pianist for many weddings and public events.

“It’s a hard thing to see go, it is one of the unique things left that make it seem like a little town,” Jane Andersen said, referring to the building being torn down. Andersen has been a snow bird resident of Washington for the past 15 years.
According to Nisson, he is not sure what he will do once the store is closed on Nov. 30, quoting Doris Day’s popular lyrics, “…whatever will be, will be the future is not ours to see…” Nisson then added “some days it is hard to take that the store is closing.”

According to Nisson, now 92 years old, visiting with the public has been one of his greatest joys in life. Nisson and his family are busily liquidating the stores inventory. At present merchandise is marked down 30 percent and every thing must go. Nisson Mercantile is located at 20 E. Telegraph St, Washington, Utah.

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