Through the years, the building has had many uses. The prior owner was a dance instructor who lived on the second floor and had a dance studio on the first floor for 20 years. Another owner had an antique shop and put in a Russian Tea room for the public on the second floor.
Going back further it was a dry goods store. In the basement there was an area lined with shelving. The story goes that the owners of the dry good store had a shoe exchange for children who couldn’t afford to buy shoes. As their feet grew they could come in and swap their shoes out for a larger size. These shelves are still in the basement.
At the back of the building was a platform non-electric Otis elevator. The dance instructor told me proudly that it still worked. She used it to move out all of her belongs, which was good because the stairs were a bit scary.
When I learned of the history of the building I assumed the elevator at the back of the building was put in by the dry goods store. The elevator went from the basement to the second floor. I imagined it was used to move large bags of flour or sugar. However, in the process of trying to find a new home for the elevator, I spoke with a local historian, Mitch Lutzke, who informed me that the elevator was originally used to move caskets between floors! He had three different people share oral histories stating that for a short time my building was used as a funeral home.
Unfortunately I was not successful in finding another home for the elevator. Apparently they are not as rare as I thought. Plus removing the elevator to try to preserve it was not an easy task. But at least I have a photographic record of this piece of history of the building.
Photos by Gabriela Blank.