Laconia General Store

The original Laconia General Store was built in 1875 in Laconia, Indiana. The store burned down in 1927 and was rebuilt within the same year. The local store was considered a staple in the community. A place to get gas, pick up a few groceries and catch up on the local gossip.

The second level was used as a merchant’s hotel for salespeople and later converted into a meeting space for the Independent Order of Odd Fellows (IOOF.)Lodge 479, a secret, men-only social club. Two signs for the IOOF organization remain on the exterior of the building. 

When a new state law went into effect, requiring underground tanks to meet stricter environmental standards to prevent gasoline from leaking into the soil and groundwater, the IOOF removed the old tanks. Unfortunately, the removal of the tanks depleted their funds, and they could not be replaced.

For the store on the main level to survive, it needed to sell gasoline. Russ Parker, who leased the main level, eventually closed the store.

In 1999, Bill and Gayle Cook, founders of Cook Medical, a global medical device manufacturing company, and CFC Properties, a real estate development and property management company, purchased and restored the general store. 

Before the renovation, there was wood rot, infestation, and typical deterioration. Cook Group’s architect, George Ridgway, and engineer, Greg Blum, examined the building and drew up blueprints with a plan to preserve and renovate the store. 

Pritchett Bros, a Bloomington contracting company involved with many Cook and CFC projects since the 1960s, was contracted to handle the restoration work. Renovation efforts led to replacing the HVAC system, adding public restrooms, and safety railings on the front porch. A service station with two pumps and a diesel tank was installed, and the main level was opened to provide a space for visitors to dine. The store also expanded its menu options. Shortly after the renovation, a credit-card system for the gas pumps was added, allowing 24/7 gasoline purchases.

Judy O’Bannon, wife of Frank O’Bannon, former Indiana Governor, cut the ribbon for the store’s grand opening in 2000. Dave Steen, a former member of the IOOF and Cook’s family caretaker at Cedar Farm, took over store management.   

Since its grand re-opening, the store has been a proud supporter and often a participant in the annual Celebrate Laconia Festival. Before the 2019 festival, Jim Murphy, President of CFC Properties, shared in a newspaper article by The Corydon Democrat

“We have a very friendly atmosphere and just phenomenal customer service. One thing we take pride in is working with the community.”

Today, the story is still known as the place to gather for a warm meal, where locals can pick up a few essential groceries, and where regulars are on a first-name basis. Laconia is located in Harrison County, 22 minutes south of Corydon, Indiana, the first and former state capital of Indiana.