Behind the vinyl siding of a formerly unassuming building along Latrobe’s Main Street was a wooden façade of a bakery that once welcomed customers for more than a century.
Mailey’s Bakery opened 125 years ago inside the building at 335 Main St., and its new owner John Baran is working to restore the historic, original wooden façade, through assistance with the Latrobe Community Revitalization Program (LCRP).
Across the street from Mailey’s, LCRP recently restored the Hewitt Real Estate building, as well as the building that houses Paper Heart Affairs next to the former bakery. In total, LCRP has completed more than two dozen façade restorations in downtown Latrobe.
“We originally bought it because it has three apartments upstairs,” Baran, owner of Latrobe Property Management, said. “And the price was right, so we decided we’d use it for rental income.”
However, after LCRP Executive Director Jarod Trunzo presented Baran with renderings done by the nonprofit organization’s consulting architect Steven Patricia, Baran decided to move forward with restoring the façade back to its former, late-19th century glory.
In addition, Baran has plans to renovate the bottom floor of the 2.5 story building by potentially turning it into a café or deli.
“(Trunzo) started telling me about all the renovations they are doing, and it’s pretty exciting about Latrobe with what they are trying to get done,” Baran, a Latrobe native, said.
Over the past few months, crews have been working to restore the building’s original wooden trim, including its dark green and cream color. Baran has funded the first phase of façade restoration.
After looking at archived photos provided by the Latrobe Area Historical Society, LCRP and Patricia determined some of the original façade was likely still intact underneath the vinyl siding.
When the siding was finally removed, Trunzo said they were surprised to find wood underneath — not metal, like they expected.
“We’ve never come across a façade like this before, where the whole front was wood,” Trunzo said. “To be able to recreate that by hand is a really special thing.”
Though some of the original façade was intact, there were still some missing wooden pieces, Trunzo said. Based on Patricia’s rendering and historic photos, LCRP and Baran came up with a plan to reconstruct those elements by hand.
Over the past few months, Jason Gunther of Derry has been working to recreate the wooden trim and ornamentation by hand — using impressions of the former woodwork left behind on the façade.
“It was very interesting; you could see shadows of where some of the pieces used to be,” Trunzo said. “Then going by where the imprints where the wood was removed over top of wood, it gave a great outline to recreate each of the pieces by hand and put them up, and they did a fantastic job.”
Crews from Gunther Services have also painted the wooden designs a dark green color, with a cream background that was “conducive to the time period,” Trunzo said.
“Those are proper store colors for the time period of the building in the late 1800s,” he said. “They were readily available, and heavily used.”
According to Trunzo, store owners in the late-19th century used the dark green color because dust from the dirt roads was less noticeable on that shade.
At the top of the building-front where the gable roof forms are two intricately-cut circular wooden designs that Gunther recreated to match the original pattern. Trunzo said the original pieces were possibly removed in the late 1960s during the “urban renewal” when the siding was laid over the wooden façade.
“There were some extraordinarily rare features of this building,” he said.
LCRP is funding a striped awning for the storefront, which has already been ordered. Crews recently completed prep work for the awning’s installation.
In addition, Trunzo said crews recently discovered that the two brick columns flanking the building were formerly “glazed bricks” that have since been painted over.
“We are going to remove all that (paint) carefully and bring back the originally-glazed bricks on the two columns that flank the building,” he said.
Meanwhile, work inside the building has reached a halt — with permits pending to continue work on extensive renovations that could be costly, Baran said. He also has plans to transform the building’s three second-floor apartments into one loft apartment.
“Things are just moving slow, and I really don’t want to commit to anything right now,” he said.
The original store, owned by E.A. Riddell, seemingly operated as a general grocery and produce store, according to research by Latrobe Area Historical Society President Mary Lou Townsend.
In 1895, German immigrant J. A. Maier, who had been operating a bakery at 711 Ligonier Street, near the railroad tracks, since 1880, purchased the Riddell building on Main Street and moved his bakery there.
He hired his 16-year-old nephew John G. Mailey to manage the bakery just two years after arriving in Latrobe from Württemberg, Germany. For more than four decades until his retirement in 1948, Mailey produced “some of the most popular baked goods” in Latrobe, according to Townsend.
The bakery was handed over to Mailey’s sons George and John Adams Mailey, and was most recently operated by former owner Richard Duncan and manager “Butch” Burkey.
In the 1950s and ‘60s, John Adams Mailey focused his efforts on producing donuts, which he supplied to restaurants and grocery stores in the area. His son, Patrick Mailey, recalls filling the “local favorite” cream puffs with real custard filling, according to Townsend’s research.
The doorway behind the store counter led to a baking area which features a 1898 brick baking oven. While the oven remains inside the building to this day, Baran said it “isn’t operable right now.”
Baran said he is considering leasing the first floor or seeking business partners to open a café or deli.
“It will be a nice addition (to Latrobe), and we are hoping to have it done before the summer,” he said.