Payson's First Shopping Center Turns 50

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The saying "They don't build them like they used to" is exemplified by the Manthe Building near the junction of Main Street and the Beeline Highway in Payson.

The building was constructed in 1956 -- largely by hand with stones quarried on the Rim above Strawberry.

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The Manthe Building at 807 S. Beeline, Payson, was constructed in 1956, just before paving was started on the highway linking the Rim Country with the Valley. The late Don Manthe, assisted by stone mason Omar Gould, cut the stones -- quarried on the Rim above Strawberry -- and built the building largely by hand.

Built by the late Don Manthe, assisted by stone mason Omar Gould, the building housed the town's drugstore, Payson Drug, a place called Sportsman's Headquarters, Earl's Variety, the chamber of commerce office and the Arizona Public Service office. The place was called Rimview Shopping Center.

Phyllis Manthe, Don's widow, shared a couple of photos with the Roundup, one is of the little complex under construction, the other is a postcard they had printed with the finished building on it, along with some great old cars.

Looking at the postcard and the shop today, very little has changed. There are new occupants of course and the sign in front has been reduced some -- it no longer has the "Rimview Shopping Center" or the top panel where the store names went. Only two panels, with room for four different names remain.

Heading south on the Beeline the top two panels read "Office Supplies" and the bottom two "Rim Liquor."

Bill and Gwen Tonstad now own the building and are proud of it new "vintage" status.

For car collectors, classics are from 25 to 49 years old, 50 to 99-year-old cars are considered vintages, while anything more than 100 is an antique. The Tonstads don't know if the same "rules" apply to buildings, but they like the sound of calling their property vintage.

"We -- all of us in the complex -- provide vintage service too," Bill said.

"Old-fashioned customer service," Gwen added.

"We know our regular customers by name and always treat them well, because we're glad to see them," Bill said.

"We know their kids' names and their pets, too," Gwen said.

In addition to Rim Liquors, the Manthe Building now houses Quality Plus Office Supplies operated by Gary Reed, and Old Town Pawn run by Fred Lashley.

The drugstore was operated by the Manthes from the time it opened until they sold it in 1971 to James and Ellen Sutton.

The Tonstads bought the building about three years ago.

Through the years the complex has housed a variety of businesses. Phyllis Manthe said they took over the inside suite next to the drugstore and opened a gift shop. The building has been home to June's Flowers, according to the Tonstads; it also served several doctors, Richard Johns, Luis Coppelli and Alfonso Munoz. Attorneys had offices in the building. It also housed an appliance store, Rim Country Printery and Radio Shack.

There were probably other businesses that called the shops at 807 S. Beeline home, but between the Tonstads, Reed and Phyllis Manthe those listed here were all that could be remembered.

Through the years the complex has seen quite a few interior remodels, but the exterior remains the same. In the remodels, the only thing uncovered was a safe in the floor when part of the building was used by the Rim Country Printery.

As the Tonstads and the rest of the business owners at the Manthe Building celebrate its new vintage status, look for some vintage deals in the coming months, plus an open house and anniversary event is in the works.

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