Farm Bureau - Melissa Wheeler

The North Bend Eagle

 

PF Carey Building
Eric Johnson removes the protective painter’s tape after he finished the painting the building’s new nameplate on Thursday. P.F. Carey occupied the building from 1913 into the 1940s.

Historic downtown building gets facelift

by Nathan Arneal
Published 11/24/21

Eric Johnson’s quest for historical accuracy took him around the internet, through hundreds of photos and post cards of old buildings and even to the graveyard.

His mission was to make the 130-year-old building at 722 Main Street look like it might have when it was brand new.

Johnson, 39, bought the building about a year and a half ago from Curtis Brabec, who ran a NAPA auto parts store there. Since then it housed Florals and Finds coffee and flower shop until owner Lynda Cerny moved it into her own building about a block south. Currently, the lower north half is used as a dance studio.

722 MainThis photo of the building from January 2020 shows what it looked like before the renovations.

The bottom half of the front side of the building had been covered in sheet metal, which Johnson tore out. He searched eBay and other sources for old pictures of the building. While he was unable to find pictures square from the front, he found several that showed the building from an angle. He thinks originally the storefront looked similar to the way the North Bend Eagle does now, with a grid of small, square glass panes at ceiling level with large plate glass widows below reaching nearly to the ground.

However, no trace of such a setup was found when the sheet metal front was taken down. Johnson installed new widows and framed in the rest of the opening with wood. He said he looked at hundreds of pictures of turn-of-the-century buildings to get a idea of what would have fit in during that time period.

The wood panels are painted in a cream color with dark green and red around the borders.

“We tried to keep it as close to original as we could as far as the colors we used and the way as we did the panels on the front,” Johnson said.

He and employee Ethan Mullally did the work themselves.

Along to the top of the building were faded letters reading “Widhelm Electric Co.” painted in 1979.

Johnson considered repainting that, but he wanted to get even more historical.
The building was built in 1891 by Charles Lee and was once known as the Lee Building. It hosted a dressmaker, offices and a lunch counter in its earliest years. In 1906 it housed North Bend’s first library.

The first business name Johnson found associated with the building came in 1913, when Peter F. Carey bought the building and ran the P.F. Carey furniture store, undertaker and Overland car dealership.

“I thought the name had a nice ring to it and it would be nice to add some history back to it,” Johnson said.

So atop the building Johnson painted “P.F. Carey Co.” in white letters on a dark red background, along with the year of the building’s construction, 1891. He even located Peter Carey’s headstone in Woodland Cemetery.

 

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