Monday, August 3, 2009

Mural, Mural On the Wall

Notice anything unusual about this building?

Collier Hardware is not only a downtown hardware store, it is a piece of Chico (CA) history. The store has been a part of Chico life since 1935.

Perhaps from this closer view, anything strike you?

The building itself was built in 1875. It was at one time the location of a Masonic Lodge.

The building actually has one of Chico's 40 murals gracing its wall--the windows you see in the photo above are fake. There are no upstairs windows there, only paintings of windows by artist Scott Teeple.

Inside this gem are the signs of the building's history. The darkened wood floors show the curves of years of heavy traffic, and the last-of-its-kind ladder enables a clerk to move along the wall of small bins to select the one nut and bolt that the customer wants.

As is often the case, seasonal merchandise is frequently displayed wherever there is open space. Nevermind that the women's summer hats are next to bins of nails.

But after viewing a board displaying about 50 different springs for sale, too many C clamps to count, and a number of hammers and wrenches, I came to the housewares department.

This sight caught me off guard. There they were: three rows of Kitchen-Aid Mixers. Another dozen were not in this photo. It was possible to decide between what looked like a Sea Mist and an Ocean Foam mixer.

Choosing from among 50 small springs on a display board or from among cast iron skillets of varying sizes seemed to be typical decisions facing the usual hardware store customer, but the next display topped the mixers. The selection of French Press Coffee Makers presented an experience different than what I had expected in an historic hardware store.

There seemed to be two different worlds in this store.


My cousin Steve served as tour guide around the campus of Chico State University. As we drove around the border of the University, he pointed out the "Language Houses."

The Language Houses are the row of houses the were once owned by the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures at Chico State. They were allowed by the university administration to rot for years with the plan that they would be turned into a parking lot. In the 1990s the state legislature intervened in order to save them. They were sold to Wayne Cook (remember him from the blog about his restoration work on the Diamond Hotel), who refurbished them and now rents them to students.

At 544 West Third Street, this was the French House, built in 1914.

The J. V. Richardson House at 528 West Third Street was built in 1907.

Built in 1903, this home at 512 West Third Street was the German House.

At 504 West Third Street, this was the Spanish House. It was built in 1903.

A few days later, I discoverd a mural (artist unknown) depicting these houses near Seventh Street and Main.

Late one other afternoon, I passed these four fellows* from Liverpool, who seemed intent on finding the nearest music venue.

Quite a city. I wish I had tracked down more of these murals.

* "The Beatles" mural was painted by Gregg Payne.

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