A building on East Main Street is a reminder of a time when life was lived by neighborhood.

A building on East Main Street is a reminder of a time when life was lived by neighborhood.

What is the history of the building at 1336 E. Main St.?

Its facade has obviously been altered from the original, but it has the look of a classic movie theater marquee. The sign on the front reads, "Henkels & McCoy Community Success Center."Good guess. It's a rare survivor of a particular building type: the neighborhood movie theater. These once were peppered all over Columbus (and most other large cities) in the days when much of life was lived locally-people shopped, ate at restaurants, went to church and saw movies close to home. A short walk or streetcar ride met pretty much all their needs. The Main Theatre indeed had the hallmarks of a classic local theater: multiple entry doors, a projecting marquee and a vertical signboard visible from blocks away. Flashing or "running" lights on the marquee were common, and so was neon lighting. At one time, there probably was a sidewalk ticket booth, too. The Main was fairly large-almost 1,500 seats-and it appears to have had two lives as a movie theater, the first from when it was built in 1937 until 1955, and then again in 1960, when it reopened as the New Main Theatre and featured the wide-screen experience developed by the Todd-AO company. It probably closed-date unknown-as patronage dwindled during the outward move to the suburbs in the post-World War II period. In later life, it served as a medical office and today it houses a job-training and help center. If you haven't been to the venerable Drexel Theatre, built the same year a bit farther east in downtown Bexley, go, and you'll see what the Main must have looked like in its heyday.

While out walking my dog in German Village, I noticed round stones on the sidewalk. The stones have two steps and look like a cut-off staircase to nowhere. I saw them at a bus stop at the corner of South Third and Whittier and again on either side of the sidewalk at 249 Siebert St. I would love to know what these markers are.

Oh, you mean those mounting stones, upping blocks, carriage steps? In Scotland they were called a "loupin' on stane," which seems to translate roughly as "getting-on stone." These were practical devices made of wood, brick or stone that helped people mount or dismount a horse or get in or out of a carriage. Horses are pretty tall, so a mounting stone or block took strain off the stirrup, kept the saddle from slipping and was easier on the horse's back while somebody got on to ride. It could be a high climb into a horse-drawn carriage, too, so these things could be very helpful in protecting ladies' modesty. Until horses and carriages went the way of, well, horses and carriages, they were fairly common, both along public streets and by the curb in private front yards. Usually two or three steps high, sometimes they had handrails or even looked like a regular staircase. I found one in Mobile, Alabama, with six steps, but the simple stone two-stepper seems to have been most common. Often you'd find a street number, an important date or the owner's initials cut into the stone. In the automobile age, mounting blocks are not very useful, though they can be found at equestrian centers, where beginners may need a little help getting on a horse. Modern versions are usually made of wood or-horrors-plastic. Otherwise, the old-timers make great conversation pieces. And they're not likely to get carried off by souvenir hunters.

Jeff Darbee is a preservationist, historian and author in Columbus. Send your questions tocityquotient@columbusmonthly.comand the answer might appear in a future column.