Another step completed and a piece of history has been restored at the historic Newberry/Brunke building located in Excelsior Springs. Three of the cast stone rosette replicas are now installed. Removal went well.
“I chiseled out the old damaged ones without disturbing the mortar. I made the replicas thinner than the originals, 2” thick with 2-2” bolts extending out. This helped secure them in the new mortar packed in behind them. Epoxy was injected around the rosettes to permanently secure them in place. Four more to go! The tar is coming off slowly. Don Collins, a local artist, did an amazing job painting the six cast stone rosette replicas,” said Gary Sanson, local electrician and restorer of old buildings.
“In these old buildings if you look you will usually find some hidden surprises. I knew the facade was behind the metal because of the photos. One thing I didn’t know was what was under the green turf in the windows. After peeling off the green turf I was blown away to find oak parquet flooring with a cherry wood band running around the inside edge of the perimeter. Water damaged from leaks (leaks repaired now), some boards had to be replaced but well worth it, details, details…,” Gary said while beginning restoration of the building in the Fall of 2018 when he and his wife, Kim, purchased the building.
The commercial building at 423 Thompson Avenue began life as the J.J. Newberry Co., constructed circa 1929, with a rear addition added in 1935. Previously, another brick building constructed sometime between 1909 and 1913 contained the Salt Sulphur Bath House. The building was divided into several portions, and contained two storefronts in the front of the building, and another section in the rear. In addition to the Salt Sulphur Bath House, Dr. F.M. Bauserman and the Ideal Beauty Parlor were housed here in 1917. In 1922, Bertha Magnuson, the Excellent Cafe, and the bath house occupied the building. By 1940, J.J. Newberry Co., a five and dime store, was at this address.
The restored building is now home to Bliss, offering unique furniture and gift items, but was known for many years as Brunke’s, a local hardware store managed by Cecil and Helen Brunke. The Brunke store was founded in 1921 by August Brunke after he moved his family to Excelsior Springs from Nebraska to enjoy the health benefits of the spring waters according to an account by August’s son and John’s father, Cecil Bunke, in a book celebrating Excelsior Springs’ centennial in 1981. The original store was located on Thompson Avenue at Spring Street but moved to Marietta Street across from Lake Maurer after a fire destroyed the business in December of 1924. The Beyer Theater was built in its place. A flood in 1931 forced the business to higher ground on Thompson Avenue. The store moved up and down the block before its final location at 423 Thompson Ave. for the last 35 years.