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Residents Revive Knights Ferry Building
After: A more recent photo of Miller’s Hall shows that the historic building has been brought up to code and sports new siding, as well as a number of other improvements. - photo by Photo Contributed
In the early 1980s, a group of Knights Ferry residents orchestrated the purchase of a dilapidated building in the downtown area on the corner of Sonora Road (Main Street) and Dean Street and set out to give it new life.
Lee Shearer is the President of the Knights Ferry History and Museum Associates. He said that the Griesners, Orsers, Brights, McCarthys, Le Donnes, and the Willms’ came together to purchase the old building known as Miller’s Hall from the Napier family. The Knights Ferry History and Museum Associates membership now includes over 200 members and all the members are part of the ownership.
“The building was in a serious state of disrepair,” Shearer said of when the building was purchased.
He noted that the building was built around 1864. Originally, it was a saloon in the front, cardrooms in the back, and a dancehall upstairs. In the 1940s things had changed a little, but not completely. It was a bar in front and a residence in the back.
After the group purchased it, Miller’s Hall was rebuilt and redone in the 1980s by Carl ‘Link’ Griesner and Bob Bright to bring it up to code.
Miller’s Hall now houses the Knights Ferry Museum, the post office, the ice cream parlor, the read-and-return library, a boutique, and the community services district office.
For a number of years the History and Museum Associates have been fundraising and are now getting close to finishing an extensive siding project for the building. Shearer gave high praise to the contractor Bob Muller, who is doing the siding, stating that the part that he’s redone is “outstanding.”
Carol Davis, Link Griesner’s daughter, is the treasurer for the History and Museum Associates. She reported that in the fall of 2006, the group paid $46,000 to do the entire front — both upstairs and downstairs — plus $26,000 to do one side for a total of $72,000.
She said that the front ended up costing more money because dry rot was discovered.
“You never know in an old building what you’re going to find,” she said.
Davis surmised that it would probably be around $70,000 to finish the siding project on the building, which includes the back, or north, side and the west side, as well as the back stairs. At this point, she said, they’re not sure when exactly they’ll finish the project because they need to raise more money for it.
Davis proudly stated that they wait until they have the money before they go forward with the project, and said that the government should do things that way too.
The Knights Ferry Peddlers Faire and a motorcycle ride have been the primary fundraisers to fund the Miller’s Hall project. Davis has been the coordinator for the Peddlers Faire for 18 years and said she is stepping down from that responsibility this year, though said she’d still help.
On Oct. 10, the motorcycle ride fundraiser for the project takes place. Participants have the opportunity to ride through the Knights Ferry covered bridge — the longest authentic covered bridge west of the Mississippi. For anyone interested in the ride, contact Pam Fonse at 968-4618.