Postcard from Thorpe & Co. Jewelers

Date: c. 1912

 

Description: This is a postcard with an artist’s rendering of Thorpe & Company, a premier Sioux City jeweler. The company began in 1900 when George Thorpe, a diamond buyer and appraiser, opened his own jewelry store at 4th and Pierce Street. Thorpe had a reputation then as one of the greatest diamond experts west of Chicago. This reputation earned him a thriving business, and soon his store made and sold not just diamond jewelry but all kinds of fine jewels as well. In 1912 the nearby Mondamin Hotel burned to the ground, taking Thorpe’s store with it. However he did not let the business fail; he operated out of a side street while a new store was built in the same location. The drawing on this postcard is likely one of the first looks at this new store, and was published by the company to try and increase sales. By 1924 Thorpe operated not only one of the most prestigious but one of the largest jewelry stores in the tri-state area, and his store furnished many exquisite decorations for Sioux City’s Diamond Jubilee. Thorpe remained an active community member throughout his life, taking part in the Abu-Bekr Shrine, Rotary and Elks clubs. When Thorpe died in 1937 his son-in-law, Wilson Clark, took over the business. Wilson’s grandson Rusty Clark operates the company today.

 

Just as famous as its jeweler is Thorpe Company’s clock, which was bought by George Thorpe in England in 1902. This clock stood at the block outside Thorpe’s store for over 100 years and during that time became one of the famous landmarks of Sioux City. It survived the devastating Pelletier fire in 1904 and the Mondamin fire that destroyed Thorpe’s store. Each generation of the family maintained, cleaned, and reinforced the clock over the years. Its old pendulum mechanism was eventually replaced with an electric system, hidden by the clock’s pedestal. In 2002 for its 100 year birthday the clock was installed with a new fiberglass face and casing for further protection, and the old face was donated to the Sioux City Public Museum, where it sits on display. The clock with its new face still sits outside Thorpe’s store, where it continues to keep time and watch over the city.

 

Donor: Alice Wakefield