Restoring history for a new generation

Lee and Dani Bacon want to showcase Aberdeen history on the downtown’s edge

Lee and Dani Bacon bought a historic building near the edge of downtown Aberdeen with a passion to keep the building’s history alive, as well as to enhance the area around the structure.

The enhancements are both inside and outside of the 92-year-old building — which sits at the corner of West Wishkah Street and South K Street. The improvements catch the eyes of passersby. One of the more striking aspects is the new exterior color of the building — urban moss green.

But there’s a reason for that color, because it restores some of the history and character of the building, according to Lee. It was a popular color choice in the 1960s, and the Bacons like “mid-century stuff.”

Lee spoke to The Daily World about the sweat labor he and his wife Dani, plus their hired workers, have done to make the building sparkle inside and out. For example, Lee’s office and the upstairs space around it, is a clean, pale yellow color. It’s full of photos that show Aberdeen’s history.

“We bought the building with the plan to remodel it and we started up here in our offices,” Lee said. “We skinned everything, repainted everything, and tried to bring it up to a point where we were comfortable where we are, which we are. Then, we started working on the tenant spaces.”

Longtime Aberdeen residents may remember that brick-and-mortar space used to house Goldberg’s Furniture. It also used to house Adamore’s Shoe Store. The Bacons intend to maintain the building’s history. They have even protected the decades-old receipts and artifacts they found when they bought the building in April 2021.

The hard work began in May 2021. The Bacons have already received high marks for their efforts.

Lee said most people he’s heard from like the color of the building. While the color might catch the eye, it’s just the shell of what’s inside.

One of the businesses that exists within the building is Game Freaks — 121 West Wishkah St. That shop is the first space the Bacons finished. The Bacons stripped eight layers of flooring and uncovered a natural wood floor that gives the game store a unique look. Instead of bland carpeting that is normally seen at chain game shops, the flooring is sleek and shiny.

“We’re bringing the floors back to their original life, we’re trying to respect a lot of the interior architecture,” Lee said. “Basically peel back and uncover a lot of the things that were covered up over the years.”

Lee said in the building’s past, things that were “old and ugly” were covered. Lee said a good example is the flooring at Game Freaks, which used to have carpeting.

“It was just one layer after the next,” Lee said. “You kind of go, ‘Where does this end?’ It was like opening a Christmas present that’s been wrapped 12 times. And then it ends at this beautiful wood floor, and you go ‘Wow!’”

Travis Atwood, store manager at Game Freaks, said he likes how the store looks. Game Freaks moved in near the end of May 2022, Atwood said.

While Atwood’s not quite sure of what to make of the building’s exterior color choice, he said it’s much lighter than it was and that is an improvement.

“It is nice they repainted and everything (else,)” Atwood said. “The building does look a lot better than it did before, I feel at least.”

Atwood likes the other work that the Bacons have applied to the exterior.

“They’ve opened up a lot of the windows and stuff,” Atwood said. “All of those were boarded up and everything. You couldn’t even tell at the time that those were windows.”

The work done to Game Freaks was paid solely by the Bacons.

“I feel it is a building owner’s responsibility to provide a properly lit space with certain levels of detail that make it adequate for our tenants,” Lee said. “It doesn’t mean everybody needs to restore their spaces to the original look, that’s the decision that we made.”

Lee said it’s “shortsighted,” to push that responsibility on a business owner that may just be starting out and trying to survive. He said they also may not have experience, or interest, in doing that type of work.

That’s how the Bacons make things nicer for their tenants. It’s a good thing the couple is that way, because they’re there for the long haul. They’ve been on the Harbor for about 15 years and they’ve been in Aberdeen for the last six years.

“We’re not property flippers,” Dani said.

In addition to unveiling the history of the building inside and out, there’s also the technical work involved. Lee said it depends space by space. But lighting is essential, because he knows it can “make or break” a project.

The Bacons are also replacing nonstructural components where necessary. But, Lee’s grateful the integrity of the building is sound. It makes it possible to restore as much of the history as they can.

“We bought this with the idea that we wanted to take a building that had good bones, and a lot of potential, and revitalize it,” Lee said. “(We wanted) something we could really be proud of and bring back to life.”