The end of an era is coming to Walnut Street as longtime businesses on its 300 block shut down before an upcoming building sale.
The trio of tidy brick display cases that occupy 322, 324 and 326 Walnut St. will be sold at nearby Illegal Pete’s restaurant this summer, restaurant chain founder and owner Pete Turner confirmed on Friday. Turner said he expects the sale to be final next month.
Turner and the Younger family – longtime owners of LeRoy’s Lock Safe Systems, 326 Walnut St., and its two adjacent stores – entered into a contract in 2015 whereby the Youngers eventually agreed to sell Turner their Walnut Street property. , according to Turner and a Colorado alumnus report.
Earlier this year, Turner said he got a call from Wayne Younger. Wayne’s father, LeRoy Younger, started LeRoy’s Locksafe Systems on Walnut Street in 1970 before Wayne took over the business.
“(He said) they were ready to move on,” Turner recalls.
LeRoy’s LockSafe Systems storefront closed to the public earlier this year and the business has since been sold to new owners.
The adjoining storefront at 324 Walnut St. – which once housed the Halloween Shop and Zomboy Masks mask-making studio – appeared to be vacant last week.
Halley’s Comics, the trio’s last store at 322 Walnut St., is expected to close at the end of this month, according to owners John and Susan Bonner. The store, which has been on Walnut Street for more than 30 years, discourages shoppers from stopping by because it has already sold its inventory.
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The Youngers bought the building in 1990 for $ 135,000, according to Larimer County property records. Turner declined to say why Illegal Pete’s is buying the property, but noted the sale price was less than $ 1 million.
Attempts to reach Wayne Younger for this story were unsuccessful.
The sale will effectively double Turner’s real estate on Walnut Street, providing an additional 9,000 square feet of land next to Illegal Pete’s, which opened at 320 Walnut St. in 2014.
Turner plans to develop the land into a new restaurant and bar concept, with the possibility of a retail element as well as the potential construction of residential units on its back half where there is currently a parking lot.
During the development process, Turner said he hoped to unveil some of the original history of 322, 324 and 326 Walnut Street.
The brick storefront block originally housed a stone house built at 326 Walnut Street in the late 1800s, according to a cultural and historical survey of the structures in 1996.
In the early 1900s, the stone house was the personal residence of Larimer County Coroner Walter Gough and his wife, Ella. From 1913 to 1919, Carl and Minnie Kuhre – owners of a paint and wallpaper store around the corner – lived there with their family.
Second-hand dealer Charles Reingold and his wife, Minnie, bought the house in 1922 and stayed there for 34 years. Reingold built a flea market next to the house and did business there until 1956.
In 1958 and 1959, the house was wrapped in bricks and renovated into the trio of commercial stores it is today, according to the survey.
LeRoy’s LockSafe Systems was the oldest company in the neighborhood, operating at 326 Walnut Street for 50 years. LeRoy Younger died in 2001. Bette followed earlier this year, according to his obituary.
The masonry from the original home of the lot is still visible on the east side of LeRoy’s LockSafe as well as behind the locksmith counter.
“There is an opportunity to dissect, honor and amplify the original building and maintain what we believe to be historically important there,” Turner said, adding that he had commissioned a report on the 322, 324 and 326 Walnut St. to local historian Suzy Riding.
In its findings, Riding features businesses, families and newsworthy events related to the three addresses over the years.
“We’re really interested in the history of our buildings and kind of honor that and develop them accordingly,” Turner added.
No specific timeline is set for the project, Turner said, although he hopes to have a plan in place for the buildings in about six months.
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Erin Udell reports on current events, culture, history and more for Coloradoan. Contact her at [email protected] The only way she can keep doing what she does is with your support. If you subscribe, thank you. Otherwise, get a Coloradoan digital subscription today.