Owner Linda Sitton enlisted renovation specialists Brandon Wallace and Steve Hilton to improve her store's appearance. Records date her store back over 100 years, showing it as Martin's Clothing, Shoes and Hats in 1906, Ruscha's Dry Goods in 1916, and, in more recent years, Something Special, She's So Fine and the Happy Merchant.
One of the most exciting discoveries made during the renovation process came after eight layers of paint were removed from the show window frames. Instead of plain steel, copper frames engraved with designs emerged. Wallace plans to coat the copper to sustain its shine and leave it on display. He has used the copper color scheme for the overall exterior, painting wood and an overhead sign mount in the same hue.
Pulling back the dropped ceiling revealed the original tin ceiling with an ornate decorative design with striking curved edging. Sitton said she had peeked through her ceiling tiles in the past and knew the original tin ceiling was there. She had not had a thorough look at it before and loved what she saw.
The cost of heating several feet of ceiling makes removing all of the dropped ceiling impractical. Wallace and Hilton will leave the front eight feet of the ceiling on display.
Renovators also removed the plaster over the west brick wall and stripped off two layers of linoleum at the entrance, revealing a high quality original wood floor. Repeated sanding and polyurethane have left the wood shiny and open for view leading up to the store carpet.
The old tint was scraped off the display windows and a new plastic tint with a slightly darker hue was added.
Other work involved adding new crown molding over the entrance door, laying a rope light over the crown molding, replacing electrical wiring in the show window that dated back at least 70 years, power washing and cleaning the foundation plus painting. Hilton said the crew planned to finish the three-week job last weekend.
Sitton said she does not know if funding through the Downtown Revitalization and Economic Assistance for Missouri (DREAM) initiative will cover the kind of work she had done. She suspected store owners will have to pay for much of the cosmetic work themselves. She hoped her example would encourage others to take a look at their own buildings and take steps to make Broadway a more attractive place to shop and socialize.