Rare photo of Stewart's Root Beer original stand

EDITOR'S NOTE: This piece was previously published at Richland Source in 2013.

MANSFIELD -- The story has it, that in 1924 a young city school teacher named Frank Stewart wanted to augment his teaching salary by selling his own Root Beer during the summer.

As far as American history goes, the product known as Stewart’s Root Beer went on to become a nationally loved beverage, and the root beer stand became a 1960s phenomenon around the six-state region.

Original stand

The sticking point of the story for local historians has always been "Where was this original stand?" The only site locations that came down through the decades were vaguely, “near the underpass,” and “at the end of Fourth Street.”

Snapshot of Park Avenue East in 1924

The solution comes from this snapshot taken in 1924 from atop the underpass on Park Avenue East where the road dips underneath the railroad tracks.

The photographer was intending to picture the circus — set up in the field between State Route 42 and State Route 430, where Park Avenue East splits.

What he captured, as well as the circus tents, was the first ever Stewart’s Root Beer stand. It stood in the field along with the circus attractions, and is, indeed, visible from the underpass and "at the end of Fourth Street."

The business has been vacant for a couple of years, but the history remains.

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