Wilshire Market is now Fire and Stone

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The transformation is complete.

We had a sneak preview dinner last night at Fire and Stone (3707 NE Fremont), which opens today, and can testify that the transformation of Wilshire Market is now complete. We’ve been watching this Beaumont-Wilshire neighborhood building for about a year now, and appreciating its history in the neighborhood: built in 1923 and operated as the Wilshire Market and Grocery by Solomon Barrigar and Albert Mumler, this business served local families and provided sweets and sundries for generations of school children walking to and from nearby Beaumont School. In its early years, it was one of more than 750 small markets where Portland shopped for its groceries.

Today, it’s an attractive bakery and restaurant with a menu that features full dinners like roast chicken, ribs and roasted fish, wood-oven pizzas, salads and bread. During the sneak preview dinner, attended by hundreds of curious supporters and business partners, the building came alive and many remarked about remembering Wilshire Market. There are some clues to its former life:

  • Check out the transom windows preserved by owner Jeff Smalley and now displayed on an interior wall. These windows once ran the length of the south and west sides of the building and many of the panels served as advertisements. Jeff has saved some of the nicest examples.
  • Speaking of windows, of course there is the Padrow Pharmacy window, which we’ve been investigating for Jeff. Additional pledges continue to arrive (thank you) and we’re submitting a grant to Coca-Cola (the original window’s sponsor) to help with the restoration. You can read more about the window here and here.
  • The new doorway at the southwest corner returns the building entrance to its original position. Nice touch.
  • Exposed structural and building systems inside let you see back in time. There’s plenty of new framing material, ducts and electrical wiring, but some of the work from 1923 is still visible.

Can you find other clues?

During a time when many developers start their work by demolishing an existing old building to make way for the next big thing, we’re pleased to see one business that has kept the historic structure and even built part of its identity on its history and character. This is a trend Portland needs to support.

 

Wilshire Market Update

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We dropped in on Jeff Smalley at Fire and Stone on Fremont this afternoon to see how his remodel was doing. If you’ve been watching, you can see for yourself that the colors are emerging and things are happening behind the paper on those windows.

Jeff says lots of people are asking about timing: looks like opening in early December. Plumbing and electrical work should be done by Thanksgiving, and then there is time to train staff and get things fully operational.

He’s been pleased to see writers on the internet anticipating the restaurant, including Portland EaterPortland Monthly, and of course our earlier post about the building and the business.

Here are some pictures of the interior from earlier today:

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Looking toward the main entry from the bar area.

 

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Looking toward the main dining area. The bakery and “take out” area is in the background–accessed by its own door on the east end of the building–where the wood-fired oven will reside. The windows are a dominant feature both inside and outside, illuminating on a sunny, cold fall afternoon.

 

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The trim pieces (called dentals) along the cornice at the top of the wall were milled from several of the original wood beams removed from inside the building. The windows will receive an awning and during the summer, there will be tables outside.

Speaking of windows, stay tuned for news here in the next day or so about the historic Padrow’s Pharmacy window. Interesting plans are underway.

Defacing History

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Local baker and old building-lover Jeff Smalley dropped us a note this week to let us know of sad and pointless damage to the property he is developing at the former Wilshire Market near the corner of NE Fremont and Alameda. You’ll recall that Jeff is the creative force behind Fire and Stone, the new cafe that is transforming this 1923 commercial building.

When we met Jeff a few weeks back, he was going out of his way to protect and to showcase the historic window–clearly a time traveler from an earlier day–that marked the location of Padrow’s Pharmacy. He liked the vintage look and feel of the window, and after all it has been there for a couple generations.

But on a night this past week, someone spray painted the window. Because the historic window was originally painted on the outside, this senseless act has irreparably damaged the surface. Aside from being completely disgusted about this development, Jeff reports that he has video surveillance in place now throughout the construction site and is ready to pursue and prosecute further vandalism. As for the window, its future does not look good.

 

 

Wilshire Market Building Comes Back to Life

We’ve been watching with interest as the remodel work progresses at Wilshire Market (3707 NE Fremont). The term remodel might be a bit modest for the amount of work going on there, stripping the building back to its barest bones, but keeping some of its most interesting aspects.

9-13-14 South Face

Remodel might also imply that it’s going to continue being Wilshire Market, which we know not to be the case. Business owner Jeff Smalley is in the process of transforming the building into Fire and Stone, a wood-fired bakery and café. As a nearby neighbor, we’re looking forward to that part, as well as being able to see and appreciate some of the original components of the building.

We dropped in for a visit with Jeff this week and were amazed at what we saw, and at his vision for the new business.

First, about the building.

Built in 1923 as the Wilshire Grocery and Market Inc. by partners Solomon N. Barrigar and Albert P. Mumler, the business name has essentially stayed the same, but the building has had a few facelifts.

The front door, which we believe originally faced the corner, has moved around a bit. When deconstructing, Jeff and his carpenters found clues to other doorways: one in the middle of the south wall; the one that has been most recently used near the southeast corner; and a separate entrance in the northwest corner associated with a small pharmacy.

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The once and future entrance at the corner of NE Alameda and Fremont. What was the original entrance to Wilshire Grocery and Market, will be the main entry to the new restaurant Fire and Stone, opening this fall.

The pharmacy has left another big clue: the window on the west side of the building, which you can see to the far left in the photo above. The former owners preserved the window and put it on display for passersby during work completed a few years back.

Padrow’s Dispensing Pharmacy shows up in newspaper advertisements and city directories from 1950-1960 as a business owned by Western Drug Company and in operation at its own address (3701 NE Fremont). How it related to Wilshire Market has so far been beyond anyone’s memory that we’ve spoken with (can any AH readers please shed light on that?), but by all accounts it had its own door–just to the right of the window–and its own identity separate from Wilshire Market.

A fascinating feature of this building buried for at least 50 years is a full set of transom-type windows running the length of the south and west walls above the main windows.

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Looking at the south wall. Note the transom windows above the main windows: 36 panes in all.

They were covered up sometime in the 1940s or 1950s (educated guess) when other things were rearranged in the building (more on that in a moment). 36 of these transom windows tiled the entire south face of the building, prompting Jeff Smalley to observe that it must have been downright hot in the building during the summers. Maybe that’s why they were covered up long ago. Some of the transom windows on the west side had advertisements painted on them like this:

9-13-14 Ice Cream

 

Smalley has saved the hand-painted windows and will be displaying them inside the business. As for the transom windows, Smalley is liberating that space and opening it up again to light, though the original framing had to be replaced due to damage done during the rearranging a half-century or more ago.

Other rearranging done over the years included an addition to the north side of the building that added a residential apartment and storage area. In fact, the last proprietor of Wilshire Market lived on the premises. Smalley will utilize some of that space for storage and for employee break room space.

Do you have photos or favorite memories from Wilshire Market? Send them along and we’ll share them here.

Now, about the new business: Fire and Stone.

Jeff Smalley at the bar, Fire and Stone

 Jeff Smalley, owner, Fire and Stone.

First things first: Jeff Smalley has a history with bread. He spent seven years as a manager at Grand Central Bakery. He worked at Portland French Bakery, where he launched a new line of bread. And most recently, he was the bakery manager at New Seasons for the last seven years. Jeff knows his bread, and he knows good food. As a plus, he’s also learning a lot about old buildings.

Fire and Stone will feature a large wood-fired oven that is at the heart of the whole operation. A bakery and take-out area with its own entrance will reside at the southeast corner of the building. When you walk in the door—and from just about everywhere inside—you’ll be within sight of the big oven. Seating for 70 in the dining room and 10 seats at the bar should hold a good crowd, and during the summer, tables and chairs will be out on the sidewalk and large sliding windows along the south and west side will be open to the air. Jeff is adamant about being a good neighbor and about wanting the business to be a place where the neighborhood enjoys getting together for good food and conversation. He lives here too: the Smalley family has lived in the Cully neighborhood for 12 years, where Jeff and his wife have restored an older home.

A few other details Jeff pointed out during our recent visit: the tables, chairs and booths (under construction off-site right now) are all being made of seasoned, beautiful wood salvaged from a 100-year-old barn and fashioned in Prairie School and Mission style. The floors will be polished concrete, lending a slightly industrial feel. The exterior will be painted stucco. Inside, expect to see photos of Wilshire Market from the past, in-progress remodeling photos, and maybe even some history about the Beaumont and Alameda neighborhoods (ready when you are, Jeff).

Now for the $64 question: When will Fire and Stone open?

Jeff has been shooting for Labor Day all summer but with that come and gone, has readjusted his sights on the end of October. As an observer and participant in construction projects over the years (and as a lover of good bread), we hope he’s right but are thinking it’s looking more like Thanksgiving.

Whenever it’s ready, the business will add an attractive new venue for a get-together and good food, and serve as a place to remember and appreciate how the past has shaped today and the future.

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