Park City Nursery building renovation uncovers some local history
Garden Cafe scheduled to open in March
Construction crews at the Park City Nursery/Gardens unearthed some of the area’s Wild West history over the past couple of months while renovating the structure that will become a coffee shop on the property.
“We found a lot of amazing artifacts during the process, and by amazing, I don’t mean gold or anything like that,” said nursery owner Sophy Miles Kohler. “We found doll parts, and lots of bottles, including a ladies leg whiskey bottle from the 1800s.”
In addition, crews dug up some porcelain tea cups and saucers and a rusted pistol, Kohler said.
“We plan to make a little display of our findings for people to see when they come check out the new coffee shop,” she said.
The shop, which will be called the Park City Garden Cafe, is scheduled to open in March, and crews are working to ensure the building will be up to code and structurally sound, Kohler said.
“We thought it would be great to have coffee and tea for customers, because there’s (nothing like that) between Kimball Junction and Park City’s Main Street,” she said.
The structure under renovation was originally the Pace-Archibald general store that was built in 1890, Kohler said.
“This was before Park City was a thriving mining town and more of a ranching community, so people would come by in their covered wagons and buy grains and other essentials,” she said. “The store used to sit in the middle of S.R. 224, and was scootched over to the side when the highway was built.”
Because the store was moved to make room for the highway, it didn’t have a proper foundation — until now, according to Kohler.
Before crews could pour a foundation, they had to move the structure, yet again, and that took some preparation, she said.
“We did some interior frame stabilizing, and then used a crane to carefully lift and move the whole building to another spot on the property so we could build a foundation,” Kohler said. “We had to make sure we had proper plumbing before we poured the concrete foundation.”
Crews were careful to keep all of the salvageable historic components of the building intact before moving it.
“The structure in itself is very simple,” she said. “It was made in the Victorian era, but it isn’t fancy and frilly like what you see on the East Coast. But we still wanted to make sure the outside boards would remain original.”
The building will keep most of its interior beams and the hardwood floor, Kohler said.
“Supposedly Butch Cassidy and the Hole in the Wall Gang had a hideout under the floor where he and his bandit crew would stay when they came up from southern Utah,” she said. “We’ll have to re-varnish the boards to keep them clean and approved.”
Seeing the building suspended by a cable 30 feet in the air was a little unnerving to Kohler.
“It was scary watching it fly through the air, not once, but twice,” she said.
Crews did have to dismantle the building’s brick chimney before the crane did the heavy lifting, Kohler said.
“Wouldn’t have been safe otherwise, but we salvaged all the bricks and we’ll use them to put the chimney back together into place,” she said.
The roof is the one thing that will definitely need to be replaced, Kohler said.
“We’ll do our best to make the roof look as authentic as possible as well as make it safe and insulated,” she said. “I’m sure as we move forward on the restoration, we may have to replace some wood or molding.”
Although the building restoration started a couple of months ago, Kohler, who purchased the nursery in 2015, proposed the restoration idea to Summit County a few years ago.
“We have lots of historic buildings on the property, and while some of them aren’t customer ready, we mostly use them for storage,” she said. “We introduced our idea, invited the County Council to the nursery to show the layout of the site and tell them about the history of our buildings, which are some of the oldest buildings in Park City.”
The renovation of the Pace-Archibald store has strengthened Kohler’s love for the property.
“This love came from a slow, hands-on bond that happens over time as you clean things up, find treasures and really see the ruggedness of things,” she said.
The layout of the 10-acre property has also become an important aspect of Kohler’s customer experience.
“There will be limited indoor seating in the coffee shop, so we’ve been clearing a back walk in the garden area by the stream where people will be encouraged to explore the area with their drinks and snacks,” she said. “We want customers to come and enjoy the space. If they’re not gardeners, indoor garden people or cut flower people, maybe they’ll be herbal tea people.”
For information about the Park City Nursery/Gardens, visit parkcitynursery.com
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