810 Ligonier Street
Due to a generous grant by the Katherine Mabis McKenna Foundation, our organization has recently purchased the 27,000 sq. ft., three story 810 Ligonier Street building! Known by some locaks as the historic "G.C. Murphy's Co." building we wanted to share not only some of the incredible history of this most remarkable structure but also share some of the many renovation phases. With the help of so many talented masons, carpenters, electricians, roofers, preservationists, architects and general contractors we are positioning this building to be a destination for downtown Latrobe. We invite you to journey with us and check back monthly for updates!
A Wild History: 1875 to 1903 to 1935
This map from 1887 shows the first phase of what we know today as 810 Ligonier Street. The building was built in 1875. In 1903 a completely separate building would be constructed on Main Street (not shown). By 1935, the buildings were conjoined with a third structure. This ultimately created the massive building as we know it today - which has entrances on both Main and Ligonier Streets, and wraps around our Revitalization office here in the historic Quatrini Law Building.
In 1936, a year after the buildings were cojoined we found evidence of a new I beam schedule. This was an incredibly ambitious engineering and construction feat. Skilled local laborers would carefully retrofit the entire three stories of the building main framing using high quality, American made I beams and additional structural steel components. The result has enabled this building to stand as one of the strongest buildings ever constructed in Latrobe.
G.C. Murphy Co. (Ligonier Street entrance)
Although there were numerous businesses in 810 Ligonier Street during its nearly 150 years in existence, we wanted to highlight the well known G.C. Murphy Co. department store. In the late 1930's, plans began for this multi-level retail department store which sold everything from food and clothes to pets and even had an area for children's games. The business would enjoy success for decades. Seen in this image trolley tracks are still visible demonstrating the shared use of the streets for transportation of the time period.
G.C. Murphy (Main Street entrance)
The upper elevation brown stone and sandstone columns can still be seen today. According to our friends at the Latrobe Historical Society, this image was taken around mid century which shows the entrance of the store on Main street, during a time period when downtown Latrobe had two way traffic throughout.
Purchased in 2023!
We gained ownership of the property in January 2023 and we immediately fixed the roof with numerous repairs and will soon repoint all the mortar on all four sides, essentially "sealing the envelope" of the entire building.
"Old" Dollar General Building
After G.C. Murphy, the building became a Bargain World for a number of years until becoming a Dollar General sometime in the 1990's. Our organization would supply one of our first ever façade grants around 2010. This photo was taken just prior to the façade renovation and also prior to when we spearheaded the effort to replace the old failing "highway style" cobra head lampposts with more tasteful historic style lamp posts as seen on the below image.
Understanding History with Technology
Our architect, Steven Patricia took one of the original blue prints and recreated the entire interior and exterior of each level of the building to scale by using Sketch up. The empty space to the right in this image is achieved by removing the Quatrini Law building at the corner of Main and Ligonier Street. The top right area shows the rooms which were once apartments many decades ago on the third story, Main Street side. This digital recreation is helpful for the many planning stages ahead.
Ligoiner Street Elevation
We have already replaced the ripped awning with an new design pattern, rebuilt and painted the area with rotting wood directly above, and secured and installed some new shutters. Even the simple common things, like having the glass professionally cleaned for the first time in years on the storefront will enable the public to gradually witness the interior construction work that is currently underway. Similar work is underway on the Main Street entrance.
Inside the Ligonier Street side of the building, we began removing hundreds of panels of pegboard. Behind this corkboard, some of the substrate had small fragments of the original wall paper from the 1800's still in tact. As we build new walls to get the building into proper code, we will encase a small area so that same wall paper - over 140 years old is still visible to the public.
Hardwoods - still intact!
We are excited that we will be able to bring the original hard wood floors back which have been well preserved after many years. In the late 1960's a young employee for G.C. Murphy's was instructed by his supervisor to apply Linn seed oil to the hardwoods to preserve them once a month. We recently had one of the many contractors working on the building, JM Builders, remove several sections of flooring to inspect those same floors. Incredibly the actual owner of JM Builders, Jim Mickinak was that former employee at G.C. Murphy's, who at the age of 16 would apply the Linn seed oil to preserve these same hard wood floors.
After considerable demolition, new insulated walls and electrical updates have been built on both of the Ligonier Street sides by Artech Group LLC. On a portion of Main street as seen on the left, we were able to expose and begin restoring the original brick because of its condition. Still present on the now fully exposed original hardwood floors were the darker indentations from where the shelving and display units we located in the 1950's.
Repointing the Envelope
After making much needed roof repair, all four sides of the structure are being repointed. This detailed process includes applying new mortar between the masonry joints and bricks along with any open holes and sandstone in need of repair. Structural cracks will also be sealed. Combined with the roof repairs, this lengthily process of "sealing the envelope" helps ensure structural integrity, safety, and serves to eliminate water from entering the building.
A new Day for the Main Street entrance
Four months after aqusition and the main street elevation is nearly complete. A newly installed awning sits under a rebuilt signboard while new mortar and top cornice has been carefully corrected. The pool hall, which has an entrance to the far right and is open to the public will soon see new signage.
Having undergone numerous stages of sanding and various repairs we were able to bring back the original hardwoods. Mostly comprised of maple with some pine, we opted to go with a very light stain to bring out the natural colors before being sealed.
Relying on original blue prints of the building and following the brick patterns as seen in the alley on the Ligonier Street side, we brought back four large windows that were removed many decades ago. We then began working with Br. Mark Floreanini, a Benedictine Monk from St. Vincent Archabbey to test numerous patterns and colors. Four custom, and entirely unique stained glass designs were eventually settled on and executed with acute attention to detail. The four new windows have now been installed and help create a beautiful and one of a kind ambience for the building.
Sound Dampening, Lighting and Brickwork
We resurfaced the entire ceiling with K13 Sonospray which provides insulation and sound dampening ideal for conversations to reduce echo. We also ran all new lines and added adjustable warm white lighting that can be altered between 3500K to 5500K. While all new walls were build with metal framing throughout, we kept this unique side wall exposed with the origional brick when we discovered its character.
Ligonier Street Entrance
As we restored the details to the exposed ibeams, we installed custom baseboards to meet the newly restored hardwood floors. After holding a few events late last year we are excited to do many more later this year now that much of the main construction work has been completed!
Main Street Entrance - Pool Hall
We just installed a new lit drop sign for our downstairs tenat - the Latrobe Billiards Pool hall. It is open to the public Monday through Saturday from 7:00PM until Midnight. Weekly rate is $4 an hour, Fridays is $5 for the whole night and Saturday is free ladies night. Entrance is on the Main street side of the building.