Historic retail sign revealed at downtown Steamboat store
Remodeled shoe store uncovers past
December 12, 2010
Steamboat Springs — When Rick and Linda Petet bought the retail building at 908 Lincoln Ave. in late August, they knew they wanted to restore its narrow storefront to its original condition, but they didn't know the historic treasure they would find when they stripped the interior.
The Petets' new store, Goodie 2 Shoes, opened this month, and visitors to the shop are confronted with a fresco advertising sign on the plaster wall behind the cash register that is nothing short of a precious piece of Steamboat history. The owners were presented a bronze plaque last week, signifying the addition of their building to the Steamboat Springs Register of Historic Places.
The sign promoting the J.W. Hugus and Co. general store actually is on the exterior wall of the adjacent building that houses the Steamboat Smokehouse today. It was built in 1908 when Steamboat was virtually a frontier town.
"The Model Shoe Shop at 908 Lincoln Ave. exemplifies the commercial development of the small, mostly rural pre-railroad community of Steamboat Springs and is a physical manifestation of the local economic growth and optimism occurring during the town's early development," former city planning employee Laureen Schaffer wrote in the historic nomination. "In 1905, when the existing Model Shoe Shop was constructed, Steamboat Springs had been incorporated as a town for only five years."
The newest owners knew the little building needed help.
"When we bought the building, I thought it needed to undergo a transformation," Petet said.
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The building at 908 Lincoln has been a shoe shop since its origin and for much of its existence. In recent history, it was an interior design shop, travel agency and gallery.
Originally the Model Shoe Shop, it later became Steamboat Springs Sporting Goods and then Estes Sporting Goods, where Alex Estes sold Red Wing boots and Sorels.
Petet expected to strip the front façade down to its original materials and restore the inset trapezoid-shaped front entry, which was a common means of shielding commercial entryways from the wind in historic Steamboat.
Things got interesting when the Petets and the professionals working on the project began to demolish the upstairs apartment and strip layers of material off the inside walls.
"It was pretty much down to the foundation and the bare walls," Petet said. "We were so fortunate to find an original red brick wall on the east wall of the building. When we stripped about 4 inches of material from
the west wall, there it was. I called my wife and (architect) Jan Kaminski, and we were all so excited."
The large sign for J.W. Hugus and Co. is painted in several styles of lettering with drop shadows and promotes groceries, dry goods, hardware, a meat market and notions.
Immediately to the side of the plaster sign is a wall of native sandstone shared with the Smokehouse.
The sign has been lovingly restored, with decades of nail holes patched and the lettering left looking as it should, with the inevitable nicks and scratches.
"The real heroes were Custom Design and Stucco and Chula Beauregard," Petet said. "Custom Design was able to re-stucco the brick wall and leave patches of red brick showing. And Chula, with her artistic ability, was able to redo the letters in their original colors. Almost every inch was retouched, but she was able to redo it and leave it looking like it's 100 years old."
Alexis Casale, a historic specialist with the Steamboat Springs Planning Department, worked closely with Kaminski, of Mountain Architecture Design Group, on the project, Petet said.
Kaminski, who has developed a specialty in restoring historic buildings to their original state here, said Beauregard's work on the sign has secured a piece of Steamboat history.
"She did a gorgeous job," he said. Petet said he hopes area residents will regard the restored sign as a gift.
"Steamboat has been good to the Petets, and in case we ever leave, this is something we can give back. Because Steamboat sure loves its history," he said.
Look out the front window of Goodie 2 Shoes and you'll spy another example of a historic Steamboat retail sign. Right next to the Petets' other shoe store, Steamboat Shoe Market, you can see the Harwig's cowboy toting his saddle.