Restoring an old wood floor and giving it a new life is fairly common project for the team at Ralph's. Being part of the restoration of an entire building however is quite rare yet this is exactly what happened with the 140-year old H.C. Prange/Younkers department store building on 3rd Avenue in Sturgeon Bay.
After sitting vacant for more than two years, the build was extensively remodeled and transformed into a a 10,000 square foot market with room for over 50 vendors and renamed "The Marketplace by Bliss".
Years of grime had built up on the floor leaving it black and tarnished, including smoke and water damage from a fire in 1935. To restore it's original glory, Ralph's had to first grind away all the old layers of finish and get back down to the actual wood. Once this was done, they were able to refinish the floor, revealing the natural hues and tones of the wood again. The restored floor along with newly opened ceiling on the front half of the building all work together to create a modern contemporary turn on the glamour of an early American department store.
By helping to revive the store, Ralph's helped bring a retail anchor back to downtown Sturgeon Bay. The first department store at Third and Louisiana arose when L.M. Washburn Co. moved its business there in the 1880s. In 1935 Washburn merged with Sheboygan retailer H.C. Prange. It was later renamed Younkers and then operated under several different owners until it was sold by Saks to The Bon-Ton in 2006. It finally closed for good in 2018.
The new owners of the building said it was important to pay tribute to the site's retail history by maintaining some of the iconic look and feel of the longtime department store. Beyond refinishing the floors, the remodeling also included public restrooms on the ground level of the three-floor building, a rebuild of a stairwell and an elevator.
Projects like this are rare but Ralph's relished the opportunity to be part of it. Refinishing old floors, whether in commercial buildings or someone's home bring history back to life.