Historic structure to be torn down

Published on Thu, Mar 20, 2003 by Rebecca Schwarz Kopf

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Historic structure to be torn down

By Rebecca Schwarz Kopf

In 1909 it was a market. In 1999 it was an adult entertainment store. And some time within the near future, it will be a vacant lot. The building last known as the Blaine Book Company, on the corner of Peace Portal Drive and H Street, will soon be demolished.

According to Terry Galvin, Blaine�s community development director, the owner of the building stated he intends to tear the building down. �The book store is going to come down but I don�t know when,� he said. �When the owner came in for the demolition permit, he said that he was going to take it down within a month. That was two months ago.�

Blaine Book Company president Chris Stansfield, said he had no comment about the building. �No, no, no,� he replied, when asked if and when the building would be torn down or if he was willing to comment on the history of the structure.

The store closed its doors in 2002, and was the last of several adult entertainment businesses in downtown Blaine. Prior to closing, Stansfield attempted to get a license renewal for an adult bookstore, but was turned down because of more than $30,000 in fines in violation of the adult entertainment ordinance. During this time Stansfield�s father, John Stansfield, who also owns the building, applied for a license to run a video rental store, but his application was rejected. Chris Stansfield filed for bankruptcy.

For many people, tearing this building down is something to be thankful for. After years of debate over the adult entertainment industry, and setting city ordinances to restrict the locations of these businesses, tearing this last building down is a sign that Blaine�s pornographic past is no longer visible to the naked eye. The buildings are gone, and all that remains are memories.

But if these walls could talk, they�d tell you about the grocery business that once flourished within its walls, before the pornography business ever moved in.

The first store to call the building home was Oertel�s Market, which started business in 1909, serving meats, cheeses and other groceries to the local townspeople and folks travelling through. It stayed in business for many years, right across the street from Goff�s Department Store, another historic business.

�I remember really high shelves up the sides. And there were library ladders, maybe 10 or 12 feet high,� Greg Goff said, remembering the store in the middle of the century.

His father, Murray Goff, remembered the store owned land at Birch Point, where cattle was raised. And behind Oertel�s Market, there were chickens, rabbits and a smokehouse.

The building was declared historic in 1996 by the Blaine Neighborhood Association, who was in the midst of compiling a historic booklet called �Blaine�s Historic Homes, Buildings and Churches.� The building currently has a small black plaque near the front door, near a weathered �closed� sign, indicating its historic value. In gold lettering it states the year 1909, in which it was built.

�The plaques were offered to homeowners and building owners,� said Susan Sturgill, a project director for the historic booklet. �And I believe the owner paid in full for it (the plaque) by himself.�