Monday, February 11, 2013

Some Before Pics

To fully appreciate our final product, I think it is important to see what we started with from the beginning. After the antique store was cleared out, and we held a few yard sales of our own to clean out the upstairs, we finally had some open space to work.
Ahhh...look at that wide open space downstairs. I can see round tables covered in white table cloths sprinkled throughout and people dancing on a dance floor already. Can't you?

Before the antique store completely closed, we had to make a few purchases of our own. Those beautiful Victorian sofas will make great photo props or a great sitting area during cocktail hour.

Beautiful light coming through!

This view is looking at the back where an office/work area was built for the previous owner. That wall came down immediately to create more space. See fun video below!

The perimeter of the downstairs was outlined with a blue light covering that also quickly came down when the demolition work began.

This is a view of our soon to be catering prep area. Blue plastic walls excluded!

The upstairs has a totally different look and has the potential to be a cozy area that screams, "Take your pictures here!"

Support beams down the middle

Beautiful (maybe not so much in this picture, but will be) oak dressing cabinets that were left from the antique owner. The rods roll straight out to the front of the cabinets. Very cool!

The windows speak for themselves!
White tin ceiling tiles cover less than half of the ceiling upstairs. These have been taken down and will be refurbished to cover another part of the building. I can't wait to see these shine again.

Has everything (the demo work, the planning, the figuring out what will work) been all roses and rainbows? Not exactly, but we have had to find the fun in things whatever we do!

Eric coming home from a nasty night of work

This was a great time to let some frustrations out...and a lot of fun too before the real work began! (You have to turn your head to the side for most of the video).

This friendly (or not so friendly) spider came out to play one day. I am pretty sure they had to shoot it with a shotgun to kill it! Oh, the joys of working in an old building!

More updates on the progress to come soon to get us caught up to what is actually happening now! Exciting stuff! :)

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The History of 1313 Main St.

Before movie theaters and automobiles came on the scene, nearly every small town and community had at least one “opera house.”  Today we think of an opera house as a place where people wear their tuxedos and nice dresses to listen to people sing songs we can’t understand.  But in the Victorian era of the late 1800s and early 1900s, the small-town opera house was more of a community gathering place to watch all manner of productions.  It was a place where traveling vaudeville acts would come through and perform for the townspeople.  It was a place where plays and recitals and any form of live entertainment could be found.

Humboldt in the late 1880s was a small, but growing town of about 1300 people.  There were two business districts – the Crossing and the Main Street downtown we know today.  In 1887 there were about 25 businesses located in the three blocks of downtown Main Street from Webster Street (present-day 12th Avenue) to Plumb Street (present-day Central Avenue).  O.C. Sharp was a successful businessman in town with a thriving dry goods store on Main Street.  He had a new, much larger, dry goods store constructed in the middle of district in 1888, between Gillespie Street (13th Ave.) and Green Street (14th Ave.) on the north side of Main Street (our current building).

As opera houses were popular in this Victorian era, Mr. Sharp housed a large dry goods store on the first floor of his new building and made the second floor Sharp’s Hall, an opera house.  Early trade publications stated the opera house was a “splendid place for amusements” that could seat 500.  It had a large stage for performing and access directly from the sidewalk via a stairwell on the west side of the building.  The building was heated with coal stoves and used coal oil lamps for light.

The Sanborn fire insurance maps give lots of clues to the changes in these old buildings from the 1880s through the 1940s.  According to the maps, we can tell this much…
Its days as an opera house were short-lived.  By the time the 20th Century rolled around, the maps show our building as a dry goods store and millinery, which is a place that makes and/or sells women’s hats.  Between 1900 and 1905, the store changed back to a dry goods and clothing store.  Sometime between 1910 and 1915, the store began selling shoes along with dry goods and clothing, and an addition was completed on the back of the store.  In the 1920s through at least 1947, the second floor was open to the first floor with a catwalk balcony around the outside walls of the upstairs.

We’re not sure of the dates for the changes in ownership over the years, and we welcome anyone to comment on our history to fill in the blanks for us.  It appears it was O.C. Sharp’s Dry Goods store from 1888 until the early 1920s.  Next came Thweatt Brothers Dry Goods Store from the 1920s until the late 40s or early 50s.  That was followed by The Black & White Store in the 50s and early 60s, which was a popular department store.  The Black & White Store was replaced by Shainberg’s.  This is the point where we need some help filling in the timeline.  We know someone bought and opened a store in 1980, then in 1987, L.P. Robbins bought it and opened Robbins’ Nest Antiques.  We’re not sure of the history from the mid-60s to 1987. 

Our building looks white in this picture...can still see the transom windows and ornate top.

Here you can see the building when it was Shainberg's...during a Strawberry Festival parade...going the opposite way than we know it today!

Aside from the physical changes mentioned above, the building has had some pretty striking changes to its facade over the years.  Originally, the front of the building was red brick and had four tall windows across the front on the second floor.  There are no known pictures of the store front on the first floor, but based on our pictures and historical photos of similar storefronts of that period, it was most likely made of wood with large windows, bulkheads on the bottom, and transom windows across the top. 

By the time the opera house was removed and the store converted entirely to dry goods in 1900, Mr. Sharp replaced the entire red-brick facade with the facade you see today.  It’s a blond or tan brick facade with the distinctive large window in the middle flanked by a window on each side.  It even had some more ornate brick and stone work at the top that was removed at some later, unknown, date.

I believe this is around 1918, but our building is the tallest in the middle with the ornate design at the top, before they bricked all of that in. The building at that time had the transom windows.

Sometime in the “urban renewal” era of the 1950s, the storefront itself was changed from its original design to a sleek, modern look.  The display area was made up of large, solid sheets of plate glass with narrow aluminum trim.  The transom windows were removed and replaced with tiles of thick, glossy, black glass on which the ceramic, stark white lettering for “THE BLACK & WHITE STORE” was attached.  Our removal of the aluminum awning revealed this black-tile storefront that had been mothballed for over 50 years.

Picture of Black and White Store in the 50s

Careful removal of the aluminum awning revealed the original sign and some letters!

In our renovation of the building, we chose to change the storefront back to its original design.  We built a new storefront of wood construction, with bulkheads and transom windows, as close to the original as we could get without good photos.  While the 50s-era storefront was unique and historic in its own right, the sheets of plate glass were extremely dangerous, and most of the black glass tiles were broken long ago, making it unsalvageable.  

Other cool things we have found or that others have found for us...(thanks Marvin Sikes and John Blankenship)...

After the guys removed some wood around a support pole in the back of the building, they uncovered a stamp of Thweatt Bros. 

News article found from a 1942 Courier-Chronicle recalling the history of downtown. This particular part was announcing Mr. Sharp's new store and "opera house".

Receipt from 1896 from Mr. Sharp's store

If anybody else knows anything about the building or has pictures, we would love to hear about it. So far we have heard great memories of people shopping there when they were kids or getting to put their money on the wires to go up to the cash registers on the mezzanine level at the Black and White Store. We love hearing the stories so feel free to comment below and tell us all about it!