Bringing historical building back to life

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Alex Thompson stands in front of the Henery apartments in downtown Stockton.

The Henery on 121 S. Sutter St. in downtown Stockton is one of many abandoned buildings in the city that was around during the years downtown was in its prime. 

However, Alex Thompson, an architect and lifelong Stockton resident has bought the abandoned Henery hotel for $24,999 with plans to renovate it back to the way it used to be when it first opened in 1913. 

The original building materials still remains intact today; the marble walls, a solid marble electrical panel and even Prussian wood paneling; Prussian wood being from Prussia; a country that ceased to exist in 1947.

“The trick with this building was they wanted it to be a representation of all of the local building materials, plus the local skills required to assemble them,” Thompson mentioned.

A lot of what was in the Henery during its prime still remains in the building today; Victorian type furniture, broken down vintage refrigerators and stoves as well as the original service elevators from 1913, which Thompson looks forward to using if he ever lives in one of the apartments.

“This is the oldest version of this in the Central Valley,” Thompson said. “I’m not replacing any of this. I want to get every original component rebuilt and reinstalled the way it was.”

Thompson wants to give those who stay at the apartments an authentic early 1900’s feel by re-utilizing not only the elevators, but by bringing back 1913 type room service with the coverts that connect each apartment to the hallway.

“A guy from the building will come from one of the kitchens downstairs and up the service elevator to your door. He’ll put your order in the covert and may notice a bag of laundry you’ve placed in it. He’ll tag it, take it back downstairs and have it cleaned and sent back up to the covert.” 

Though Thompson’s ultimate goal for the building is to make it a livable apartment complex again, it’s going to take a while. 

Thompson is hoping to have two Henery apartments up and running within five years and is open to letting local volunteers lending a hand, which is one of his the ways of sticking to the methods the building’s original architect had.

In the meantime, Thompson plans on using the first floor as a place for entertainment the public can enjoy once it’s finished up. 

“It’s one of those things we can’t go about doing exactly what we want from the beginning,” mentioned Thompson, “so what I want to do at first is begin simplistic; make this a place for wine tasting, hanging up canvases and start doing art exhibitions here.” 

Thompson also plans on opening up bars and restaurants in the building.

“The weird part of this is, by itself in its current condition because of how little people have done to it in the past 30 years, it’s almost like an art display itself. I think to myself, ‘This isn’t an apartment building; this is a piece of artwork that people can walk through and look at.’”