Thursday, February 2, 2012

Big Ol' Bundle of Joy... Whistle Stop Corner is born!

Early 1930's photo of the future Whistle Stop Corner
1929 photo of the Red And White grocery store
Whistle Stop Corner- boarded up and waiting for resuscitation!
Today was the day we chose over five months ago for the closing of the purchase of our new property, and it felt like it would never arrive... but this morning we signed our names several times on several papers and drove away from the title company with the keys!  Actually, exactly six months ago, on August 2nd, 2011, we discovered the property.  We stopped the car in the middle of the street and both pointed at the front of this building and said, "That's IT!"  It took some sleuthing to find the owner of the building, but three days later we were inside with flashlights following the owner around and listening to stories of his grandparents, and later his parents, who ran the grocery store from the late 1920s until ten years ago when his father, then in his 90s, died. The store was boarded up at that time and had remained a sort of time capsule until today. 
Imagine with us: an event center created in the 1200 sf space that was the grocery store in the front of the main building.   Art workshops! Family reunions! Company meetings! Dances! Concerts!
Ok, we're pretty excited.
Two other buildings are on the property...
1. An apartment building with two one-bedroom apartments and one studio apartment on the top floor and eight one-car garages on the first floor, plus a laundry room and storage room. 
2. A two room, one story cottage between the two large buildings.
The apartment building, the cottage and a a bit of picket fence

Amazingly, electric service was restored to the apartment building today after ten dark years.  Of course, all the wiring will be replaced before we rent them to future tenants, but trust me, it was exciting to push the doorbell and hear a satisfying ding-dong inside the south apartment! A few light bulbs actually still worked after all these years. We had to take photos of the new electric meters with all zeros on their counters. (See below.)
Also, the water company installed a water meter that services all three buildings, but we're not so brave as to turn the valve to "ON".  We keep visualizing multiple fountains spraying from every old plumbing joint and every ancient faucet and tub and toilet connection.  Shudder.
Today we pulled vines off the back of the main building and cut vines and saplings and brush away from a picket fence.  Don't you find that cleaning something makes it yours?  Years of compost has accumulated at the base of the fence and covers the sidewalk. I think we need a snow shovel!
The back half of the main building, where the family lived for three generations in a two bedroom apartment behind the grocery store, we envision a guesthouse for artists attending art workshops, or for groups traveling together, or families connecting to explore San Antonio.  We see a dorm-style, upscale interior in a nostalgic wrapper. Are you seeing it?
Please also see: gleaming fresh new white paint, anthracite grey trim, and a silver roof.
So many days and dollars will need to be spent to bring these buildings back to life, but we're looking forward to the process.
Whistle Stop Corner is in the Historical District of Dignowity Hill, just adjacent to and just east of downtown San Antonio. We find ourselves part of a revival of the area happening right now. We've joined the very active neighborhood association and have met many enthusiastic, like-minded people. A micro-brewery and restaurant is planned for a block west of Whistle Stop Corner.  A block away is the new Hays Street Bridge, a pedestrian and bicycle bridge that goes up and over the railroad tracks two blocks west of us and connects us with downtown. We're very close to the Riverwalk, the San Antonio Museum of Art, Sunset Station, the Alamo and... Nueva Street Gallery.
The adventure begins.............
All zeros on our new electric meters
Brand new water meter- not yet turned on.