For nearly 30 years ending in the fall of 2015, at the corner of Third and Lyon in downtown Albany there was a restaurant named Pizza King. Turns out the name had historical roots, and those are now being recovered, not by chance but by CHANCE.
The building dates from 1910, when it was built to house the King Griff Grocery Store and another company. Three years later a different grocery was listed there, and the tenants kept changing through the ensuing decades. The building was remodeled for a pizza business in the 1970s, and years later still, it had gone from King Griff to Pizza King.
In recent months the interior has been remodeled to house CHANCE, the nonprofit addiction-recovery operation that bought the property two years ago. The interior is nearly finished, and now it’s time to return the exterior to the appearance it had when it was built.
On Wednesday evening, after a short public hearing that generated no public testimony, the Albany Landmarks Commission approved plans for the exterior restoration, designed by Christina Larson and her firm, Varitone Architecture.
Kerry McQuillin, the Landmarks chair, and member Bill Ryals had high praise for Varitone’s work in modernizing the building while restoring design features, both inside and out, that make the structure historic. “I’m very impressed,” Ryals said.
Among other things, big windows facing Lyon Street will be restored, as will the original entrance. Another entrance will be provided on Third, but in the same style as the front.
Jeff Blackford, the CHANCE director, called the structure “a brick building held together by layers of paint.” Instead of sandblasting the walls, which would require special precautions because of lead paint and might damage the century-old bricks, the walls will be painted once again.
Ryals said the basement had yielded a lot of memorabilia, and he hoped they could be displayed.
CHANCE stands for “community helping addicts negotiate change effectively.” Now headquartered in a small former church at 238 Third Ave. S.E., the organization calls the people it helps “peers.” As of the last report, it had 1,780 of them in Linn, Benton and Lincoln counties.
Blackford told me before the hearing that one reason for restoring the big exterior windows on Lyon, rather than save money by leaving the solid walls, was to let in natural light, which is in keeping with the idea of recovery.
The exterior changes were included in the organization’s $250,000 remodeling budget, and Blackford expects the restoration will start right away. (hh)
As Bill Maddy implies in the comments below, “King Griff Building” may be a misnomer. The Albany directory for 1911-1912 lists residents by their last and first names: “KING GRIFF, Rooming House, Groceries, Confectionery, Cigars, Agent Stayton Milling Co, 321-323 s
Lyon, res 421 s Ellsworth.” This is followed by: “King Mrs Lucy, res 421 s Ellsworth.” (Looks like the Kings, Griff and Lucy, lived only one block over and one down from their store/rooming house.) But the directory’s business listing shows, under groceries, “King Griff, 321 s Lyon.” The apparent upshot, Griff King had some fun with his name and called his store “King Griff.” So it’s the King Griff Building after all.