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Miller Brothers Building
The Miller Brothers Building on Fort Wayne Avenue in Richmond (across from Little Sheba's) is being renovated. The windows have been re-exposed in preparation for the opening of a new furniture business by Roger Richert.
Photo taken June 7, 2005
After being abandoned, the Miller Brothers Hardware building will be used once again.
Author: Mary Sell; Staff Writer
Walking though the empty Miller Brothers Hardware Co. building in Richmond feels a bit like a history lesson. A very cool history lesson.
The Depot district building's three floors once housed one of the
largest wholesale hardware firms in the country. The
95,000-square-foot building occupies most of the block between North
Eighth and Seventh streets on Fort Wayne Avenue. The original
portion was constructed in 1890, with expansions in 1900 and 1913.
While Miller Brothers has been gone more than 30 years, the
building's punched tin ceilings in the office area are still there.
So are the "Miller Brothers" signs painted on the interior walls.
Some windows have been knocked out and covered up, but the
multi-colored stained glass on the second and third floor remains.
The building, most recently used as storage, is a little musty
and dusty. The cavernous rooms that once held the Miller Brothers'
operations are now empty.
But not for long.
Roger Richert, owner of the Richmond Furniture Outlet, bought the
building in December for about $200,000. By the fall, he hopes to
sell furniture in it.
Richert, a self-proclaimed history nut, wants to change as little
as possible about the building and make it a downtown attraction.
"What we're hoping for is not just to sell furniture but to make
it a destination people want to see," he said.
The building belonged to Miller Brothers Hardware for about 80
years. In 1971, it was sold to Franklin Industries of New York City.
Miller Bros. closed in July 1973. The building was purchased that
month by Charles Mosey of Mosey Manufacturing. It was used for
storage until about a year ago. Since then, it has been empty.
It has Charles Mosey's face, painted on a mural in 1999, on the
east side of the building. The mural will stay, as will painted
"Miller Bros. Hardware" advertisements on the interior of the
building that mark where inside walls were once outer walls as the
Richert is talking to a few artists about creating more murals
depicting historic Richmond in the building.
Richert said he only will paint interior portions of the building
that were previously painted. The hardwood floors will be refinished
"We're trying to have a nostalgic look of Old Richmond," Richert
Richert's current Richmond location on Sim Hodgin Parkway is
about 10,000 square feet. Richert owns six furniture stores in
Richert said he will operate out of both Richmond locations
indefinitely. Richmond Furniture, started by his parents, has been
at its current location for 40 years.
But this new location, with seemingly endless floor space, will
let Richert do something he doesn't have space to do in his crowded
Sim Hodgin spot: Display and accessorize his furniture. He's already
thinking about where he wants to put furniture in the large rooms of
the building - leathers on the second floor, retro on the third.
"This is as big as all our stores combined," said Richmond store
manager Dewey Thompson.
The Miller Hardware building is one of several renovation
projects in the area and Richert, who grew up on North 16th Street,
said he's happy to be back in his old stomping grounds.
Wayne Goodman, director of the Eastern Region for Historic
Landmarks Foundation in Cambridge City, said it's great to see
another historic building in the Deport district get a new use.
"I think that the redevelopment that is taking place in that area
is fantastic," Goodman said, citing the business and restaurants
that helped redevelop Fort Wayne Avenue and North E Street.
He said development around the old Pennsylvania Railroad Depot
increases the need for renovations to that building, which he said
is the centerpiece of the district.
"I think that the renovation that Roger is going to be completing
on the Miller Brothers Buildings is another sign that we need to
save the Depot," Goodman said.
Renee Oldham, director of the Richmond Urban Enterprise
Association, said her group still is looking at grant options and
several development possibilities for the Depot.
She said she's excited to see an existing local business expand
into the enterprise zone. The enterprise zone covers much of
Richmond downtown and historic areas and offers a variety of tax
incentives to companies that locate there.
Oldham said the businesses in the Fort Wayne Avenue corridor are
complementary of each other and the Richmond Furniture Outlet will
be a great addition.
"I just think it will be another huge anchor for that corridor,"
Reach reporter Mary Sell at (765) 973-4476 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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