at Mundt's is like a trip
down Madison's memory lane
MADISON, Ind.- A lot has changed in downtown Madison in the 33 years
since Betty and Richard Mundt ran Mundts Candies. Though businesses
and people have come and gone, some things have remained unchanged.
by Libby Richards
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
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 students
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 Mundts Candies in the existing building
at 207 W. Main Street.
Maryanne Imes, her mother and business partner, Berneta Wolf, and Maryannes
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.
Mundts 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
A trip to Mundts 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 Imess needed help. Peter Lessaris, a candy and ice
cream maker, stayed for more than a year to help the Imess learn
the art of candy making and figure out how to use the old ice cream
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.
Its a shame she couldnt 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 isnt 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.
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