The Ackerman Building has graced Bowling Green's public square for more than a century, housing a variety of enterprises, including a bakery, candy shop, department store, attorney's offices and a coffee house. Built in 1892 in the center of a row of Italianate commercial buildings on what was then known as "Summer Street", the three story red brick structure boasts pressed tin hood molds and a corbelled parapet crowned with a metal cornice and cast iron pilasters framing the storefront. Improvements in the cast iron and pressed metal industry in the mid-19th century sent in motion the economical mass production of elaborate trim and cast iron storefronts that became prevalent in cities and towns from coast to coast.
The store that many locals associate with this building is the J.C. Penny's department store which opened in the Ackerman Building in 1923 and continued selling men's, ladies and children's clothing, shoes and household items until 1978. Following a national trend, the store re-opened at the new auto oriented regional shopping all on the edge of town.
The Ackerman Building experienced a few years of inattention until the 1980s when the Landmark Association helped the owners take advantage of the Historic Preservation Tax Credits to rehabilitate the building for offices.
remember that at J.C. Penny's, long before the days of computerized cash registers, the clerks would put money from customers into a cup attached to a wire that was then pulled to the main office. A few seconds later, it would miraculously return with the correct change. Those were the slower paced days when people did not mind waiting a bit for the change and the staff took great pride in taking time to serve customers. James Cash Penny actually adopted a vow of "putting customers first" and named his first store "The Golden Rule Store" which opened in Wyoming in 1902.