Items from the past are always fun to find when you’re restoring Old Historic Buildings.
It’s nice to see more interest in restoring our past for the future going on all across the US.
The work also has turned up small reminders here and there of office work before the age of computers and high-speed Internet. Someone working in the Booth building, for instance, apparently had a fondness for Bubble Up soda. A metal spittoon and a Tuxedo Tobacco tin preceded smoking bans. No modern office was complete without Purity Typewriter Oil. The product said so right on the label.”It will not gum or get rancid.
Heavy brown fabric — similar in touch to burlap — helped keep elevators quiet. Levison & Blythe Manufacturing Co. of St. Louis produced the typewriter cleaning oil. Mail tubes ran between floors for interoffice correspondence. Patches of white mosaic tile can still be found. Removal of a wall revealed skylights that apparently had been obscured for decades.
“We’re just kind of collecting it all,” Lawrence said. “We’ll probably put them on display somewhere in the building, maybe in the lobby. It helps show the history of the buildings.”
Lawrence, who heads Siciliano Inc. of Springfield, estimated that it would take another two years to complete restoration of all three buildings.
The Ferguson and Booth buildings were both built in the early 1900s, according to a history compiled by Lawrence. Both are eight stories high. The three-story Bateman-Kennedy Building in between dates to the 1800s. Early work is concentrating on the westernmost Booth Building, where plans include 21 upper-level apartments and lower-level commercial space.
Lawrence, who declined to estimate the cost of the project, said his goal is to open apartments in the Booth Building in early 2016, followed by completion of the Bateman-Kennedy and Ferguson buildings.
The long-term plan is for a single entrance through the Bateman-Kennedy Building to the upper levels of all three buildings. Three to four apartments also are planned in the Bateman-Kennedy Building. Cafe Brio restaurant will remain on the ground floor of the Ferguson Building, which will be remodeled for office and conference space. Lawrence said he envisions a fitness center and an upper-story restaurant among the possibilities.