The Mundt Building

Lunch at Mundt's is like a trip
down Madison's memory lane

By Libby Richards
Staff Writer

MADISON, Ind.- A lot has changed in downtown Madison in the 33 years since Betty and Richard Mundt ran Mundt’s Candies. Though businesses and people have come and gone, some things have remained unchanged.


Photo by Libby Richards

The Mundt Building is known for
lunch as well as its candy and
features high school photos
of many Madison residents,
including Mayor Al Huntington.

The Mundt Building still houses its vintage soda fountain and ice cream maker, and its walls are still adorned with the fresh faces of teenagers that flocked to the business in the 40s, 50s and 60s.
From 1933 to 1966, Betty and Richard Mundt ran the candy store and soda fountain that became a second home to the teenagers who went to the Broadway School in downtown Madison. Though the couple had no children of their own, they welcomed the local youth with open arms.
Betty always had a smile on her face and a warm and caring manner when it came to the kids. At night when the curfew horn would sound, she would make sure they all had their coats and things as she scurried them out the door home.
Soon the students were bringing their school pictures to her, which she kept until she had enough to put in a large frame. A meticulous record keeper, Betty then framed all of their photos with each student’s grade and name below his picture. Other pictures of Betty, Richard and students at the soda fountain also adorned the walls.
Constructed 163 years ago, the building originally housed boots, shoes, ladies hats, fine tableware and Western Union telegrams. In the past 81 years, it has been known to Madison simply as the candy store, home and candy factory of the Mundts.
In 1893, Walter C. Mundt, an immigrant from Berlin, Germany, moved his family to Madison, opening his first candy manufacturing and retail store that year. Ten years later, he organized the Mundt-Hidden Candy Co. In 1917 he founded Mundt’s Candies in the existing building at 207 W. Main Street.
Maryanne Imes, her mother and business partner, Berneta Wolf, and Maryanne’s husband, Tom, purchased the building at auction in 1996. The property was in poor condition, she said, requiring massive renovation. All the floors had dropped, requiring lifting with hydraulic jacks. The front wall was leaning out toward Main Street and had to be reinforced. The original soda fountain was still intact but had to be shipped to Chicago to be restored to working order.
Still, it was a labor of love for Maryanne, who grew up in Madison. Having grown up on the West Side of downtown, she remembers hearing the curfew horn sounding downtown.
“Mundt’s was too far from home for me to hang out there daily,” recalls Maryanne. “I have friends whose pictures are on the walls, but I mostly came down here with my father at Christmas time to get the fish candy, cinnamon squares and chocolate covered cherries for my mother.”
A trip to Mundt’s today is like a step back in time. The original dark wood booths are still intact, as is the restored soda fountain and the 1948 ice cream maker that is still used today. The glass candy jars on the counter are the same ones that graced the counter in the 30s and beyond. Many of the original candy molds, including the ones used to make the famous fish candy, are still being employed in the daily candy making.
Having no experience in candy making, let alone in owning a restaurant business, the Imes’s needed help. Peter Lessaris, a candy and ice cream maker, stayed for more than a year to help the Imes’s learn the art of candy making and figure out how to use the old ice cream maker.
He was also instrumental creating a modern lunch menu as way of expanding the business to more than just a candy store; you can have lunch there and still indulge in the sweet treats of days gone by.
Richard Mundt passed away in the 70s, leaving Betty to live in the building alone. She occasionally opened the doors for people at Christmas time, but for the most part, the business was closed.
Betty had, however, saved everything. Maryanne began cleaning up the frames filled with the students’ pictures and hanging them on the walls. The entire time, she wondered to herself if this was the right thing to do, or if people would think she was crazy.
When the doors re-opened in 1996, the place was flooded with people who were patrons in their childhood, all of them coming to see their pictures on the walls.
“It’s a shame she couldn’t have been around when the store re-opened again because everybody came in to see their pictures and everybody had such nice things to say about her,” recalls Maryanne. “They said she was the sweetest thing with the prettiest eyes, nicest smile, never in a bad mood. So gifted, she played the piano, played the ukulele, self taught in Spanish.
"Richard was kind of the stoic-type guy, dry wit, and was always upstairs making the candy. He would come down at lunch to see the kids, then go back up and come back down at night. They all had such great things to say about both of them.”
The original teenagers still stop by these days, both local and those who have moved away, returning to see their pictures and show them to their children and friends. They interact with tourists who are enthralled by the fact that the people on the walls can be matched up with the faces of the present.
Even if your picture isn’t among those, you never know whom you might recognize. Just look at the photos in Booth 3 and see if you can spot Madison Mayor Al Huntington.

Back to November 1999 Articles.



Copyright 1999-2015, Kentuckiana Publishing, Inc.

Pick-Up Locations Subscribe Staff Advertise Contact Submit A Story Our Advertisers Columnists Archive Area Links Area Events Search our Site Home Monthly Articles Calendar of Events Kentucky Speedway Madison Chautauqua Madison Ribberfest Madison Regatta