Restoration breathes new life into West River
Using granite from old cobblestone streets in San Francisco and barn siding from the Sierra Valley, the owners of the historic saloon building and former plumbing shop on West River Street and Brockway Road have invested three years into a remarkable transformation of the building.
After buying the structure in April 2001, owners Cathy Nason and Marty Woods combined their talents to achieve a goal that they had both dreamed of Ð the restoration of a truly historic building.
The location Ð which houses Tait’s Boardshop, Truckee Books and Spirit Interior Design Ð will celebrate its grand opening on Saturday, March 3, with store sales, live music, dancing and catered food.
Originally built in the 1890s as Nevada Saloon, the building’s sign reading “Cook’s Phone 27” is a reference to its second life in the 1950s as Cook’s plumbing supply shop, when Truckee phone numbers were still two digits.
“I’ve always wanted to renovate an old building, and I could never find a partner to go in with me,” said Cathy Nason, owner of Spirit Interior Design. “I hooked Marty.”
Woods, a financial advisor with a building background, was the general contractor on the project, while Nason took on the interior restoration, window and rock work.
“It worked out well because we had expertise in our own areas,” Woods said.
Beginning in 2001, they peeled off a layer of old stucco and a layer of horizontal siding from the building to find the original vertical siding and the remnants of a square facade where signage was painted.
The historic facade had been cut off to reveal the roofline, and as much as 80 percent of the siding was unusable. So the co-owners bought wood from an 80-year-old barn in Sierra Valley to replace the deteriorated siding and facade.
The interior of the building was overhauled, also.
Almost every interior wall was rebuilt. Steel beams were put in to support the floor, a necessary addition since the plumbing supply owner eliminated several supporting posts to make room for a garage door in the back.
Nason focused her attention on the details, which were often expensive, that give the building an added look of authenticity.
“[Woods] was great about letting me do all the rock work I wanted and the wood windows,” Nason said.
Since the restoration, Tait’s Boardshop moved into the large space upstairs, made larger by the elimination of apartments at the rear of the building. Truckee Books, after a seven-month absence in which they changed owners, moved to a new downstairs location accessed from the back of the building. Nason’s Spirit Interior Design sits behind the boardshop.
Truckee Books has kept the same staff during the change in ownership, and will carry a similar mix of new and used books. However, its new owners also own Reno’s Java Jungle and have added a coffee bar and tables and chairs to the mix.
“They know all the coffee, we know all the books,” said employee Kay Fox.
“It’s a much more pleasant atmosphere,” Fox said. “Comfortable … not so utilitarian.”
The store now carries local artwork and newspapers and retains a broad selection of books that includes the occasional out-of-the-ordinary edition.
“We still have things that you wouldn’t find anywhere else, but they are pretty interesting things,” said Fox, holding copies of “The Delicate Art of Whale Watching” and “It’s Hard to be Hip Over Thirty and Other Tragedies of Married Life.”
Fox said that customers were sad to see them go and glad to see them back after their seven long months of absence.
And the store is adding new things each day as its new book selection broadens, and they work to fill their bakery rack with bagels, muffins and pastries.
“Every time I come in here there is something new and different,” Fox said.
Likewise, Nason’s Spirit Interior Design shop, previously run from her home on Donner Lake, has benefited from the move. She estimates her business, which incorporates Feng Shui and green design into interior architecture, has doubled.
With the restoration process complete, the owners look back on a very demanding three years.
“New building is so much easier than a remodel,” Woods said. “The costs are so variable because you don’t know what you’re going to run into.”
On Saturday, however, all the hard work is over Ð and it’s time to party.
The grand opening of the renovated 10009 W. River St. location is on April 3. The three stores will have sales all day, and at 6 p.m. Truckee Books will host the celebration with live music, dancing and catered appetizers.