Former Hamilton candy store building from 1890s torn down to transform space

A two-story Hamilton building believed to have been built in the 1890s was torn down last week to make way for a garden that its owner hopes someday will be an art space and a place where area art students come to learn.

The owner, Kimberly Bley, is the same woman who bought a house at 25 S. C St. and, during a kitchen renovation, discovered a 25-foot-deep well beneath it. The demolished building is adjacent to her 25 S. C St. property.

“I was a little bit sad to see history come down,” she said. “They think it was built in 1893, so of course, to see those big, one-of-a-kind timbers, hand-carved by somebody — they didn’t have machines to build these types of things back then — just to see that, and to think about all the men it took to work together to build it, it was really just something.”

“They saved the office,” she said. “The office was sort-of built separately from this.”

A couple of fireplaces also were salvaged.

The building that was razed once housed Hamilton’s first candy store, which closed in the 1980s, she said. The timbers were perhaps 16 feet long, and the man who performed the demolition “was able to save a lot of them, surprisingly,” she said. “He’s putting them to the side right now, and I’m not sure what we’re going to do with them.”

She and boyfriend Randy Slater have a vision of an arts, gardening and building program based in both Hamilton and Hotchkiss, Colo.

“This will eventually be the future site of Hamilton-to-Hotchkiss,” she said. “We want to have this area as an art space for the West Side of Hamilton, growing micro-greens and aquaponics, and things like that.

“And hopefully it will be the future site of my company, which is Gypsy Rose Collection. It’s a skin line product.”

Her five-year vision is to teach micro-green farming, which she noted is different from the cutting-edge indoor crop farming already being performed as a business by the company called 80 Acres Farms, at 319 S. 2nd St. and on Enterprise Drive in Hamilton, and elsewhere.

“Randy opened up his RV park this past summer, and we want to do an internship with art students at Miami University. We want them to be able to stay here and do micro-green farming, and eventually have them do an internship out at his ranch — so they’d go out there for two weeks — and learn how to do earth-building and things like that.”

Earth building involves making homes from the earth, such as adobe homes made from clay and soils, as the way Native Americans did it. Engineering and art students would be welcome to participate in the Hamilton-to-Hotchkiss program, she said.

Slater already does earth-building workshops with nearby universities out there, she said: “It’s kind of becoming a new thing, because the green home-building thing is becoming popular again.”

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