A 106-year-old building in downtown Kennewick and its 84-year-old neighbor will change hands after more than two decades.
The sale will be another chapter in the buildings’ long, storied history.
For the past 23 years, the two buildings next door to Players Sports Bar & Grill have been owned and extensively renovated by Cheri Manley, a business owner and downtown Kennewick advocate.
Now 70 and “tired of being a landlord,” she’s found new owners for both.
Alexandra RoseLee, owner of White Glove Weddings, is excited to turn the brick building at 114 W. Kennewick Ave. into an event venue. She agreed to buy it for $525,000.
“I’ve always had an obsession with all things old ... that have a lot of history, and dreamed, even as a kid, of owning either a home or a business that was rich with history and looks like it,” she said.
Harvey Prickett, the president of Wave Design Group, the current tenant at 116 W. Kennewick Ave., plans to buy the space built in 1939 before the end of the year. He intends to house a new business there called Evolv Design Collective - Art, Music, Design.
Manley said downtown Kennewick is a great place to own a business, but now, “it’s time to pass it on to the next generation.”
RoseLee is ready for the challenge.
She originally thought the historic Kennewick building would become the new home for her bridal bar, but she quickly realized the open floor plan, kitchen area, bathroom and get-ready loft would be better as an intimate event space called Venue WGW.
Her business, White Glove Weddings, offers event coordination and rentals, as well as a brick-and-mortar bridal bar at 8901 W. Tucannon Ave., Suite 145, in Kennewick.
“We have a limited amount of event space in Tri-Cities, and I don’t like to drive traffic out of Tri-Cities,” she said.
She envisions gatherings of about 100 people for a range of events, from weddings to corporate functions. With her event rental connections, “we can turn it into anything,” she said.
RoseLee hopes to have the building ready to rent by the holidays and likely will start booking this fall ahead of the season.
She plans to maintain all the work Manley did to restore the brick building and to further complement its historical character, such as decorating the bathroom and upstairs to match the feel of the main space.
“I’m not a fan of painting antiques or wood; the only thing I might do is have the banisters brought back to their wood. I would like to expose as much of the natural wood that exists in there as possible,” she said.
She also would like to pursue a National Register of Historic Places listing.
Constructed in 1917, the distinctive red brick building features an eye-catching neo-classical frieze and tall, thickly framed storefront display windows hearkening to Kennewick’s early days.
When Manley first set eyes on the pair of buildings after moving to Kennewick in 1997, they had fallen into disrepair and undergone several remodels obscuring their historical value and charm.
Both buildings had been occupied since circa 1960 by Smitty’s TV and Repair, which went out of business around 2000.
White paint covered the lower half of the older building’s storefront, the brick parapets were deteriorating, and an awning and mid-century doors and windows had replaced the originals.
Inside, the 2,250-square-foot space had been divided up into 21 rooms with an aging apartment in the center, Manley said. A 500-square-foot attic and storage loft was divided into six spaces and full of dead pigeons and their droppings.
A historical property inventory of 37 downtown buildings conducted by the city of Kennewick in 2001 stated that “with some restoration, (it) could have important historic value. Currently, though, it is not eligible to be considered for the national register.”
Manley had dreams of opening a garden store and had been looking for property.
“I had some money and I had always wanted to have a shop – what girl doesn’t – and thought it would be kind of fun,” she said.
At the time, there were five people – primarily women around her age – who had bought rundown buildings in downtown Kennewick and were in the process of fixing them up, Manley said.
“It seemed like there was a lot of potential,” she said.
Manley bought both buildings for $150,000 in 2000 and then put $450,000 into renovations.
The older building’s original spongy fir floors were replaced with easy-to-maintain concrete, the painted brick was carefully soda-blasted to remove the paint and Manley tracked down people who specialized in antique brick restoration work to mitigate the exterior deterioration.
The awning was removed, and a historically accurate front door and windows were installed, along with indoor early 20th century-style light fixtures.
The plumbing, electrical, HVAC and roof also were updated and an accessible restroom added. Manley said they filled 18 large-size dumpsters in the process.
For her efforts, the building earned a spot on the Kennewick Historic Register.
Before RoseLee bought it, the building was most recently occupied by Free Culture Clothing, which closed in late 2019; its other store is open at Columbia Center mall.
It also was home to Mr. Winks Penny Candy and Soda Fountain Shoppe.
Manley’s plan to open a garden store fizzled and she instead opened a boutique, She She’s, which spent time in both buildings, and Zinful Panini Grill and Wine Bar, which sought to capitalize on the taverna ambience of the brick building.
Manley said it was a little before its time, but “now it would probably be really successful.”
Manley originally considered demolishing the building home to Wave Design Group but decided it would be better to leave both buildings intact and opted to renovate it as well.
Its façade received an update and Manley stenciled the unique-to-downtown painted wood floor herself.
The building once was home to Heidi’s Mercantile, an antique and vintage shop, later called Downtown Mercantile, a shoe repair shop, originally opened by B.J. Campbell before becoming Del Bateman’s Shoe Hospital, then Huntley Shoe Repair and Saddlery Store.
According to articles published in The Kennewick Courier, the building at 114 W. Kennewick Ave. was commissioned by William Dircksen in 1917 after a catastrophic fire destroyed the previous wooden building built by Dircksen in 1905.
It first housed Dircksen’s Kennewick Market meat shop on the ground floor and an opera house upstairs. The market was managed and later owned by Frank Spofford who renamed it Kennewick Meat Market. He died on the job in 1928.
G. Lape subsequently bought the business and occupied the building until circa 1940, at which time Hill Distributing Company moved in.
Hill was there until Smitty’s took over around 1960.
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