Historic Ferdinand building to be restored

Photos by Traci Westcott/The Herald
Keith Fritz of Ferdinand poses for a portrait outside the building he recently purchased in Ferdinand on Monday.


FERDINAND — A Ferdinand man has made it his mission to restore a structure with nearly 150 years of local history.

Keith Fritz recently purchased the building located at 1245 Main St. in Ferdinand, and he plans on fixing it up in a yearslong process. Ultimately, his dream is to reconstruct the edifice’s original facade and launch an endowment for the preservation and maintenance of that part of the building.

“I love historic preservation,” Fritz said in a Monday phone interview. “I love the 19th century, early buildings in our community.”

He estimated the three-story, 13,000-square-foot structure is in need of about $250,000 in repairs to bring it back to life. The roof leaks, the hand-hewn sandstone foundation needs retouched and new HVAC systems are needed, as are other pricey improvements.

The space originally housed a general store called the New Farmers’ Store. It was built on land owned by Father Joseph Kundek, who, among other notable accomplishments, founded the Town of Ferdinand in 1840.

Over the years, the building — which dates back to 1870 — has also been home to a general merchandise store, department store, grocery store, a fertilizer and lawn mower business, and an oil change service.

The building has sat empty on the corner of 13th and Main streets for a decade. Currently, it has a white storefront and blue metal awning.

Fritz acknowledged it will take a lot of time and money to restore the structure, but he believes he can do it. He plans to reach out to grant programs to help shoulder the cost of the rehabilitation.

Keith Fritz of Ferdinand inspects a window while touring the building he recently purchased in Ferdinand on Monday.

He’s not exactly sure what he’ll do with the space when it’s fit for activity, but he did say his growing furniture business could one day expand inside its walls. Keith Fritz Fine Furniture currently operates at 1440 Main St., near Forest Park Junior-Senior High School.

“We want to start to offer chairs with our dining tables,” Fritz said. “I could see us having a few craftsmen work in the building. I could see us doing upholstery in the building. I could see guest rooms on the top floor for our clients when they come to town. I could see a lot of things, but it takes money.”

So, for now, he wants to study the history of the structure — which is one of the oldest surviving buildings in Ferdinand — and assess what needs repaired, and how he can fund those repairs.

Fritz will host a public meeting at the site at 6 p.m. tonight. He encouraged anyone who has ideas for how the space could be used to reach out to him.

“I’m open to ideas,” Fritz said. “If there’s anybody in the community that wants to do something with the building and they’ve got the money, I’m open. I just want to see the building saved and preserved.”

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