The Pacific Area Chamber of Commerce is in the process of renovating a historic building at 142-146 W. St. Louis St.
William Knobel, who was born in Pacific in 1841, built the structure as the grocery store on the street level and family residence on the second floor in 1858.
Neil Brennan, grandson of the builder, who grew up in the second-floor living quarters in the 1930s and 1940s, recalled that after his grandfather died the family rented the first-floor store to a series of grocers.
The last grocery store to occupy the building was Brandt’s Market. The ground floor retail area would later house an athletic memorabilia and card shop.
The last renter in the building was Bragg Station, a resale shop that featured antiques.
“We’re going to bring it back to what it was originally,” said Greg Myers, Chamber president.
Attached to the two-story grocery store and residence building is a single-story structure that is set back with a wrought iron fence, postcard-sized yard and columned porch, which will house the Chamber office.
Tiffany Wilson, Chamber executive vice director, is spearheading the process of ripping up carpet and linoleum to reveal the original wood floors in the future office.
Once restored, it will house a meeting and seating area in the space in front of the pocket doors that are still in their original condition. Behind the doors, Wilson’s office and a kitchen and snack room will occupy the two adjoining rooms.
The small porch and yard will be restored to the way it looked in its heyday.
“It has a lot of charm,” Myers said “And we want to retain that.”
Wilson twists the door bell that once notified anyone inside the building that visitors had arrived.
“It rings most of the time,” she said. “We’re going to work on it and encourage visitors to use it.”
In the 700-square-foot retail space next door, workers are removing tiles and metal framework of the dropped ceiling to reveal the original 12-foot tin ceilings that are still intact.
“We’re taking the whole place back to 12-foot ceilings,” Wilson said.
A series of interior walls also are being removed to expose the support columns.
A rear storage room will be expanded by ripping out a closet and restored to house a conference room with a table that will seat 14.
“The Chamber board of directors and committees will meet there,” Wilson said. “Chamber members will be allowed to use the conference room and it will be available for retail business that rents the store area if they have a need for meeting space.”
The final phase of the restoration will be to renovate and modernize the second-floor living quarters for use as an apartment.
“But that’s a long way off,” Myers said. “For now we’re focusing on creating work space for Tiffany (Wilson) and our members.”