A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

CHANCE recovers a slice of Albany history

Written July 1st, 2020 by Hasso Hering

The former Pizza King building at Third and Lyon still looked like this on Wednesday but soon…

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.

… it will look like this, as designed by Christina Larson and her team at Varitone Architecture, Albany.

17 responses to “CHANCE recovers a slice of Albany history”

  1. Greg says:

    It was King Arthur’s pizza before Pizza King.

  2. BB says:

    I’ve been hoping you would write an article about this. The dumpster has been on the street for months. Other large vehicles are asked to move after a week. Why the special circumstance for this dumpster? Ready to see it gone

  3. Margaret Dotter says:

    Think it was either Hamiltons dept or Nancy’s apparel before the pizza place

    • Bill Jackson says:

      I moved to Albany in 1968 and I remember the big display windows of Hamilton’s. I also worked there at Pachino’s Black Knight Pizza after they bricked up the windows. I’m happy to see CHANCE restoring it to it’s original configuration.

  4. Leroy says:

    I worked there in 1978 when it was Pacino’s Black Knight pizza and no one made better pizza then.

  5. Allison Hart says:

    It was called King Arthur’s Pizza because the first name of the owner at that time was Arthur (Art Stevens). Then it became just King Pizza. But before it was King Arthur’s, in the 1970s it was Pacino’s—and that’s where, as a kid, I played my first video games (Pong, Pac Man, and then Star Wars).

  6. Jim Thomas says:

    I believe that before Pizza King it was Pachino’s Black Knight Pizza.

  7. chezz says:

    I am touched by the fact that this architect is sensitive to letting in the light….not only part of the recovery to aid in their life journey, but also to connect to the building’s. heritage. Let that light be shown upon them.

  8. Craig says:

    I am no expert, but for $250k, I would expect a little more than a power wash.

  9. Ray Kopczynski says:

    Before retiring, I worked for Community Services Consortium at the Employment Dept. (now Work Source Oregon) across the street. Many of the folks who wandered in, were looking for the Dept. of Human Services (DHS) building adjacent to Pizza King in the old Sears building. There used to be an entrance to DHS on Lyon and invariably when I told them told them the entrance was “…between Pizza & Parole…” they knew exactly where it was…

  10. Dick Olsen says:

    Charles Burggraf would be pleased to see one of his buildings brought back toward its original design. I am also.

  11. Bill Maddy says:

    I am not sure why this is called the King Griff building. The original grocery store owner’s name in 1910 was “GRIFF KING”. Maybe there is more to this mystery?

    Glad to see this building’s original look brought back to life.

  12. James Engel says:

    And the parking for all the anticipated congregation of this new group is where? One block north is another “store front church” called Hub City. Are we to have “competing hymn groups” on Sundays??

  13. chezz says:

    Yo Engel – time to brush up on finding out what CHANCE is. You will be proud that someone is stepping up to the plate.

  14. Mike Ransom says:

    from Albany Evening Herald 16 Feb 1911:
    “WARNER REAL ESTATE CO. , BUYS OUT GRIFF KING Griff King, who has for the past year and a half, conducted the grocery store on Lyon street between Third and Fourth, yesterday sold his business to the Warner Real Estate Company of this city who will hereafter make their headquarters here, formerly being located on Ferry near First. It is not the intention oi the company to conduct a grocery business, for as soon at the stock it disposed of, the entire floor space will be devoted to the uses of the real estate business. The interior of the building will be remodeled and an up-to-date suite of offices to accommodate the members of the firm will be arranged The members of the firm are G. E. Warner. W. B. Kizer and B. S. Borton. Mr. King hat not as yet made any plans for the future, but it is understood he will remain in Albany.”

    David “Griff” KING later worked for the police, including a 60-day stint as Chief of Police in about 1913. In 1915 he ran for city marshall, claiming “(during my acting chief stint) I demonstrated that one day officer is all that is required to attend to the city business.”
    in 1916, the Sheriff issued a denial that Griff was “ever” a deputy sheriff, In 1913, Acting Chief enforced the city ordinance against hoboes and ordered 7 IWW supporters to leave the city. [“all appearing to be of an extremely low class of citizen”.]
    Prior to owning the store in Albany, Griff was RR agent and postmaster at Kingston.


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