The Mercantile at Valley Events Center & Inn is now open in Historic Downtown Huntsville.
The new multiuse facility will host weddings, family parties, corporate meetings, government and nonprofit events, sporting events, and much, much more. A Huntsville wedding venue is a welcome amenity to the area.
Owners Richard and Regen Sorensen of Huntsville Town are one year into their planned multiyear restoration of the nearly 130-year-old building, which was operated as a mercantile/general store from about 1890 to 2002. The building has had three primary owners throughout the years and has been in the Sorensen family since 1950, when Richard Sorensen’s father Leon left his cushy job at the U.S. Soil Conservation Service to become a fulltime storekeeper. It operated as Leon’s Market from 1950 to 1990.
Regen stated, “With 100’s of hours of sweat equity, we have restored an incredibly beautiful space. We removed nearly one inch of plaster from the walls to expose the old brick, then found the original windows and doors that had been abandoned and covered with plywood in the early 1910’s, and subsequently covered in plaster and brick. I even opened up a door to nowhere.”
Richard added, “I knew the windows had been there, but had no idea we would actually find the 130-year-old glass, double-hung windows and doors. While we would have liked to keep the original windows, it didn’t make sense in an age of double pane insulated glass with updated hardware and functionality. However, we replaced them with nearly identical wood windows that now offer amazing views to the East and West, and an open feeling on the inside.”
The next step involved restoration of the original wood floor, which is a unique construction of vertical fir wood, complete with many patches and repairs of various wood types that transpired over the last century. Richard explains, “Back in the day, it was all about functionality of the floor and not beauty. If there was a repair to be made, they simply used any available wood and didn’t worry about ‘weaving’ in the repair, as is common practice now.”
The floor and walls are full of history. When refinishing the floors, the Sorensens’ goal was to keep the charm and history so, rather than sand them flat and fill in the imperfections, they removed the old finish and applied several coats of Tung oil, which was prevalently used at the turn of the century.
Richard adds, “The spacious kitchen has been updated with stainless steel countertops and accessories, creating the perfect prep space for any event.”
When coming up with a new use for the old building, the Sorensen’s decided to create a multiuse facility that would meet some of the needs of the community. The wanted to:
- Create a unique and affordable wedding venue for local brides & grooms.
- Create a community center, which is lacking in Huntsville.
- Provide an affordable venue for their neighbors to host parties, meetings & luncheons.
- Create a space they could share with their family. In the past year, the Sorensens have hosted many events, ranging from Christmas parties to boxing matches and Super Bowl viewing parties on the jumbo 20-foot screen!
The Mercantile @ Valley Events Center & Inn is located at 7390 E. 200 S., Huntsville, Utah (located northwest of Huntsville Park).
The Mercantile Open House Set for January 20
In celebration of the completion of Phase 1 of the restoration project, The Mercantile @ Valley Events Center & Inn will host an open house January 20, 2018.
Constructed in the early 1890’s and operated as a Mercantile/General Store for more than a century, the interior of the historic four-course brick structure has been restored to a near original state. The project has generated much excitement in the normally sleepy town of Huntsville, and is now ready to be shared with the larger community.
Where: The Mercantile @ Valley Events Center & Inn, 7390 E. 200 S., Huntsville, Utah
When: Saturday, January 20, 2018 from 2:00 – 7:00 p.m.
Time Line of the Huntsville Mercantile
- Early 1890’s – Mercantile built & operated by Soren L Petersen
- Two stories with dance hall on top floor – entrance thru door on east side of building. Dances, basketball games, parties, etc. were held at the town center.
- Early 1910’s – Owned & operated by Ed Jesperson (originally Jespersen & McEntire Mercantile then Jespersen Mercantile).
- Circa 1920’s – East and west windows and entry doors abandoned and boarded up. Mezzanine constructed and shoes sold from mezzanine.
- 1930’s – Ed Jespersen’s son-in-law Red Knapp took over operation of the store.
- Condition of building declined over the next couple of decades.
- 1950 – Red Knapp became afflicted with cancer. He gave Leon Sorensen the keys and said, “If you don’t run it, then it closes.” Leon was on annual leave from the Soil Conservation Service, and helped Red out.
- Leon & Bonnie Sorensen bought the store and business with the help of a silent partner; then, bought the partner out a few years later. They ran the store until 1990.
- 1950-1960 – Sorensen began remodeling the decrepit building. Covered rough, old fir floor with subfloor and commercial tiles, plastered over boarded-up windows to protect against burglary and to create more wall space, added new storefront, added more gas pumps to west side of building, etc.
- Circa 1955 – Refrigerator fire caused smoke and fire damage to the interior. Merchandise was essentially a total loss and sold for pennies on the dollar.
- 1965 – Top story had become unstable and was removed. Bricks used to fill in window & door openings.
- 1965-1988 – Business thrived and was doing over $1,000,000 worth of business per year by the mid 1980’s. Many said, “If Leon doesn’t have it, then you don’t need it.” They sold groceries, gas, dry goods, horse tack, hardware, animal feed, kerosene, toys, and much more.
- 1988 – Sorensen’s retired, and sold the business to the founders and proprietors of the Timberline in Eden (now Maverik).
- Early 1990’s – Business sold to Woods family of Liberty. The name subsequently changed to Wood’s Market.
- 2001 – Store closes
- 2002-2016 – Ogden Valley Community Church occupies building.
- 2016 – Richard and Regen begin restoration project.
- 2018 – Building begins new era as a reception & events center.