W.E. Platner Hardware Store and Tin Shop

Hi. My name is Christine Tabak. My husband and I moved to Iowa from Massachusetts in 1989, when my husband took a teaching position at Cornell College. I was delighted to see this building become Big Creek Market in 1998, and later Big Creek Emporium – a wonderful addition to Main Street. Whenever we have guests, I make it a point to load up on natural and organic foods and other goodies tucked away on the shelves of this charming and historic building.


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The first building on this site was a frame hotel built by Elisha Waln in 1849. Named the “Mount Vernon House,” it was probably the first commercial hotel in Mount Vernon. Waln’s building burned in 1868 when it was owned by Henry Gillette and operated as “Gillette’s Hotel. “ In 1869 Gillette built a brick hotel on this site.

By the late 1870s William E. Platner owned the building and used it for his hardware store and tin shop. Platner may have been responsible for modernizing the building by adding the cornice and window hoods of pressed tin (he was in the tin business, after all). Although the windows on the second floor and the cornice at the building’s top appear to be stone are, in fact, actually tin. Pressed tin was a common decorative material in the late 19th century. It was lightweight, easy to install, and could dramatically update the appearance of a building and made it appear more impressive

In 1913 Platner built a large Queen Anne style house across from Cornell College. Mrs. Platner, according to local tradition, wanted an appropriate setting for entertaining. Later used as a funeral home, the Platner residence was acquired by Cornell College in 1963 and served as a practice space for music students for many years. Platner was also an owner of the Mount Vernon limestone quarry.



100 1st Street Southwest