Business People Fall 2018 - Page 11

Bartender Kassandra Carruthers serves house-made beer at Pallister Brothers. MEANS BUSINESS In 135 years, was warehouse, cigar factory, barbershop and now, brewery S TO RY A N D P H O TO S BY MARK NEWMAN T he building near the corner of Market and Third streets was sav- ing its story for someone willing to dig for it. Patiently, pulling bent nails from floorboards one at a time for hours on end, Wes Olson coaxed a tale out of 116 N. Market St. "I was kind of inspired by Fred Zesiger, Tim Schwartz and Tim Ware and their con- struction projects," Olson said. Those are three local business owners who have each worked on multiple down- town buildings, all previously empty or underutilized; Zesiger heads an organization geared toward making downtown Ottumwa as vibrant as it was years ago. They've taken buildings others may have given up on and turned them into offices, a restaurant and apartments. "I thought, 'These buildings were working places that served the community a long time; they still had life.' They could still do business, like they were meant to when they were first built," said Olson. His building most recently had a barber shop and, next door, a law office. His neigh- bor one door further down is a family- friendly Mexican restaurant. In the other direction, a Methodist church towers over the corner. City Hall, the county courthouse and a large Catholic church are other neighborhood landmarks. "This is the oldest building on this side of the block," Olson said. "The Pallister Brothers, we think they were from Canada, didn't actually build it. It was most likely built by a railroad [manager] in 1885 as a warehouse." Before the "old jail" was built behind the courthouse, the "old, old jail" was in the big parking lot at Fourth and Market streets. "This was, I guess, before there was zon- ing, because there was a house next to the warehouse, and another house there. But this was a working building, making money!" In the basement is one of the quirky sur- prises history buffs like Olson love to dis- cover: an elevator, probably built by a blacksmith in the 1880s with the original building. The elevator shaft starts in the basement and goes to the top of the struc- ture. Of course, there was no electricity to run the elevator car; you used a rope. Exert about 8 ounces of strength pulling that rope and an ingenious counterbalance system immediately gave you 150 pounds of lifting power. Visitors checking out the treasure with Olson on a recent weekend thought it prob- ably wasn't used much for people; after all, in the warehouse, you could either carry a 185-pound crate up the steps or slide it across the floor and use a 35 pound yank to BUSINESS PEOPLE 11