“Life on Main Street” – Salem and Greenwich Edition

Most folks can conjure up an image of “Main Street” in an instant. While no doubt unique to each person, the idea is so widely understood that even Walt Disney created his own version of Main Street, USA at his Disneyland park. 

While based on his own hometown of Marceline, Missouri, this thoroughfare represents what we all recognize as a truly American landscape.

Like most of America, Washington County is home to more than a few iterations of “Main Street,” lined with beautiful buildings, bustling restaurants, and each town’s unique history. In this first iteration of Washington County’s Main Streets series, we’re uncovering some of the history in two towns: Greenwich and Salem.

In Greenwich, Main Street is home to community businesses, taprooms, restaurants, and lots of shopping! It’s also home to the beautiful Rough and Ready Engine Company #2, built in the 1910s. This historic firehouse now holds relics of the past, like an 1859 Button and Blake Handtub fire engine and the former town jail with 2 cells!

Another historic establishment on Greenwich’s Main Street is Wallie’s: a long-time area restaurant and community mainstay. ​​Wallie’s of Greenwich originally opened in 1929 as a sandwich counter and was expanded in 1945 to serve the community and visitors from afar. 

The restaurant closed in 2005… and remained that way for 15 years. As of summer 2021, a new version of Wallie’s has returned to the location at the heart of Greenwich, for friends and neighbors to gather once again. 

Brought back to life by two hometown kids, who have been friends since their days on the Greenwich Little League fields, the vision was to make this new version of Wallie’s its own. 

While there are pieces of homage to the previous iteration, Wallie’s features three distinctly different environments within the same restaurant: the “Mercantile,” the more traditional dining room, and a more tavern-esque pub area with a full bar and loft-type area where patrons can grab a drink, share a few appetizers, or enjoy dinner while watching the big game. 

Further up the road is a great mix of new and established businesses, from incredible antiques and consignment shopping to classic German fare, cafes, and taprooms. Plus, gift shops, a paint-and-sip studio, and more.

Over in Salem, history is reborn there, too. Coming later this year is the next iteration of Jacko’s Corner, once home to a candy store and ice cream parlor founded by Jacko Tomasi in 1919. Sitting at the intersection of Main Street and East and West Broadway, this corner store acted as a fixture of the community for more than 60 years.

The local, four-person team behind the new business came together to bring back that community connection and to honor the spirit of Jacko’s in a new, modern way. 

The space is now home to a small plate kitchen and bar, with appetizer-style dishes and fresh, lighter fare featuring locally-grown ingredients. The menu will be spearheaded by Kean McIlvaine, owner of Covered Bridge Bread Co. of Shushan, NY, and initial offerings include open-face sandwiches, shareable cheese plates, and more. Jacko’s Corner will also feature a rotating list of unique wines and craft beers from around the country. 

View more photos and hear the history of Jacko Tomasi’s shop >>

Just across the way is Steininger’s Restaurant and Chocolate. Opened in 1989, Steininger’s began as a wholesale provider of chocolates to gourmet food shops and hotels. But by 1990, demand for more menu choices turned Steininger’s into a luncheon establishment. 

While currently closed for indoor dining, their chocolates, jams, and chutneys right from their website, or pop in on Fridays from 2 to 6 PM to shop.

Just off Main Street in Salem is another new project with historic roots. Fort Salem Theater recently reopened with the mission of providing “entertainment, education, and inspiration… through high-quality, engaging, and diverse stage productions.”

The building has acted as a performance space since 1972, but its history goes back much further. From the Fort Salem Theater website: 

“In 1774, a structure for Washington County’s First Presbyterian Church was started – but before it was completed, patriot forces occupied what there was of the new church building and built a stockade and barracks for the troops, known as Fort Salem. It was burned in the late summer of 1777 by the opposition. The congregation rebuilt their church two more times, but both buildings were lost to fire. In the final fire, the walls were left standing and the Presbyterians rebuilt one more time “with improvements.” This is the building you see today. Some charred timbers in the basement are a testament to the building’s history.”

After the conversion to a theater in 1972,  a number of award-winning performers and producers have managed it through the years, each expanding its reach and reputation. Don’t miss their upcoming shows in the 2022 season!