Touring Arcata Plaza, Destination # 22

Plaza Shoe Shop

774 9th St.

Built: 1880

Period: Settlement Architecture c. 1850-1885

The Plaza Shoe Shop dates to 1880 and was unusual among Plaza buildings for its gable roofline in a row of false front stores. The two front entrances are reminders that, for most of its life, the building housed two business, beginning with Cuban born Frank Xiques' barber and bath house and followed by "tonsorial artist" Andrew Galey, and "wide awake harnessmaker" George Sowash in 1898. Several tailors had shops here before 1908 when Robert Roberts opened his Cuckoo Liquor and Cigar Store. Short lived, it was followed by more barbers, bootblacks, and real estate offices. Mellinger Bros. Jewelery store and Starkey Jewelery occupied space here before 1920; Arcata Cleaning Works was the next long time tenant. Guido Canclini opened his Plaza Shoe Shop here in 1948.

The early gable roof storefront had central entrances and multi-pane windows beneath an overhang. Remodeling in 1930 added a stucco finish and vertical transom windows across the front above the large plate glass display windows. Purple-colored tiles, set off with cream colored bas-relief ornaments and trimmed in cream stripes, highlighted the thirties look. Facade work in 1985 restored the wood siding but retained the bas-relief ornaments on the corner boards and the transom windows. The Plaza Shoe Shop adds to the attractiveness of the Plaza and is always enjoyable for its old fashioned window displays.