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“The buildings spoke to me, saying ‘renovate and they will come,’” developer Mark Abromovitz says of the former O.S. Stapley Hardware store at 723-747 NW Grand Avenue. “It was my type of project.”
Many thought Abromovitz was crazy for purchasing the rundown buildings in 2011.
“People said they loved the buildings but weren’t so sure about the area,” he recalls. Abromovitz proved the skeptics wrong, but it took a lot of blood, sweat, and tears.
The O.S. Stapley hardware store opened on Grand Avenue in 1917, but the company’s history stretches back to the date on the faint sign uncovered during renovation: “Serving Arizona since 1895.” That is when Orley Seymour (O.S.) Stapley started his hardware store in Mesa. The business thrived as it was the closest supplier to the Theodore Roosevelt Dam, which was completed in 1911. Contractors purchased much of their building materials at his store. The supplies were freighted by stagecoach along the Apache Trail to the construction site.
Another major break for Stapley was acquiring the International Harvester franchise for Maricopa and Pinal counties in 1916. He moved the company’s headquarters to Grand Avenue the following year and opened additional hardware stores in Glendale, Buckeye, and Chandler. Besides farm tractors and equipment, O.S. Stapley Hardware sold Goodyear tires and Sherwin-Williams paint and carried sporting goods, welding supplies, housewares, and appliances.
After 45 years of operation, the O.S. Stapley Company hardware store in Phoenix closed in 1962 as shopping trends changed and farmland was transformed into housing subdivisions. An appliance store, car repair facility, and, most recently, an industrial machinery repair shop subsequently operated in the building.
When Abromovitz toured the buildings, the windows were Plexiglas or boarded-up, but he was enamored by the red brick and pitched trusses. He brought the buildings back to their original appearance while providing for contemporary uses, but the renovations were challenging. It included sandblasting the trusses to bring out the original wood grain, asbestos remediation, and installing new windows, skylights, and a roof.
“The buildings took on the feeling of a family member; you eat, sleep, and breathe it all the time,” Abromovitz says. “Maybe it’s just me, though; I’m not sure others put that much emotion into it.”
The building’s initial tenant was Tuft & Needle, which occupied the space with a mattress showroom and offices, much to the delight of their employees.
“I find it incredibly refreshing to walk into a beautiful workspace with natural light, brick walls, and wooden trusses day after day,” associate Michael Jasper said in 2018. “It’s always fun to see our guests come in and just be in awe of their classic look and feel. As a Phoenix native, I am proud to work in this historic downtown building.”
The mattress company later moved out, and the buildings are available for lease.
“The buildings provide a gateway to one of Phoenix’s oldest and quirkiest commercial districts,” said Beatrice Moore, director of Grand Avenue Arts & Preservation, in 2018. “This restoration reflects an optimal blueprint for adaptive re-use and sustainability of historic buildings in Phoenix.”