Previously posted on this blog is the ongoing adaptive reuse of an existing warehouse building in downtown Rochester. Long time Rochester residents may know the building at 223 North Broadway as Perry Paint Contracting. Newer residents may know it more for its ground floor retail clothing store Lillian's.
But the origins of this building are more uncertain and the amount of information that I was able to gather is based on the existing information at the History Center of Olmsted County. There are some educated guesses and leaps made by me that cannot be verified without additional information or some first-hand knowledge.
To the best of my research, the building was constructed around 1924-1925. Prior to those dates there is no record of any business in the address books. Starting in 1925 the Southern Fruit Company (presumed to be a grocery store) occupied the main floor. Originally I had suspected that the building was constructed at the same time as the Northwestern railroad spur that cuts off the SW corner of the site. The building--being shoehorned into that site with a heavy timber structure--seems appropriate for railroad warehouse purposes. Additionally, the rail spur shows up on the City of Rochester maps at about this same time. While I cannot confirm that this was the impetus for the building, it definitely was known to be the Southern Fruit Company.
Years later, around 1938, the building became the home of Broadway Stove & Furniture. As shown in the photo, the billboard size painting on its side confirms the address listing (with the very famous Avalon Hotel visible to the right, and another legacy structure the Broadstreet Building visible to the left).
The large open expanse of space on the 2nd Floor (plus the original freight elevator) along with a Broadway showroom made it an ideal spot for a furniture store. Broadway Stove & Furniture lasted for only a few years in this spot before moving to 319 S. Broadway (present day reFashion north next to Canvas & Chardonnay) in 1940. It existed on the 300 Block as part of the Paine Furniture expanse (at its peak taking up more than 4 bays of buildings) and changed its name to Broadway Furniture Company in 1946.
By transforming this structure into downtown lofts, 9.SQUARE is helping to preserve the building and its mixed use qualities for years to come. The structure approaching 90 years has great potential and plenty of life ahead. Follow the "downtown lofts" tag on this blog to see periodic construction updates.