The owner of the Size Matters Fashion Shop keeps her prices affordable for East Side residents. She is intent on helping her customers dress nicely. Similarly, she wants to make East 7th Street a better-looking place to do business. Regrettably, her simple 1910 storefront had lost much of its original character. Garish signage and painted advertisements detracted from the streetscape. However, while she wanted to enliven her storefront, she also had a leaky roof and a bowing and crumbling masonry wall to repair. The cost of these repairs eliminated the possibility of storefront improvements.
Size Matters: Before
Size Matters: After
Fortunately, the owner applied for a Restore Saint Paul loan. Through the loan program, Historic Saint Paul provided her with financial and technical assistance to make the necessary structural repairs. The contractor, Yaw Construction, worked skillfully to shore up the roof and masonry wall. Additionally, the Restore Saint Paul loan provided financing to install new awnings and apply a fresh coat of paint to the storefront. This work stabilized the building and gave it a more inviting appearance.
In conjunction with the restoration, students from City Academy High School, a charter school on Saint Paul’s East Side, volunteered their time and talent to paint a vibrant mural on the store’s east wall. Like the owner, many of the students are immigrants to Minnesota. Appropriately, the mural represents the many cultures that interconnect in the surrounding neighborhood.
City Academy Mural
The students are also working on a set of ceramic tiles that are inspired by the owner’s needlework. These tiles will eventually be installed on the storefront. Thanks to the artists, the Fashion Shop now has a highly-visible presence on East 7th Street.
This project demonstrates the potential for historic preservation to assist in commercial corridor revitalization. Historic Saint Paul hopes that this project will inspire other business owners along East 7th Street to undertake their own storefront improvements.
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