New Year, New Haven

By Sarah Osmundson
PCN Reporter 

Scott and Gina Simanton have opened a new Liquor Haven and Travel Haven on Front Street.

The business most recently was located across from the US Post Office.

“We didn’t own the building and we wanted to own our own building. This came up available”, stated Scott. When asked if he looked at other places before deciding on this one he continued, “Not really because we had to have at least 2500 square feet to move the liquor store over.”

“We bought it and completely renovated it. Took it down to bare studs. Took all the wiring, all the plumbing, everything out. Four layers off the floor, walls and ceiling. The roof had leaked for years. It had really gone into ill repair,” said Scott. The roof repair was first job to be done.

The building lays out in an “L” shape with doors on both Front Street (north) and First Ave. (west), but they don’t plan on using both entrances.

“We took 3200 square feet. The building has 5200 square feet. We have a retail rental space (west entrance) then,” Scott explained.

The Simanton’s found some interesting history in the renovation and put some items to use in the décor.

As you enter the building and look to the left Gina Simanton and Tipsy (their dog) have the Travel Haven area. Many will remember the Malta Depot bench that can be sat on and the Amtrak can be seen as it pulls into the station out the north window. Gina finds this area open, sunny and a perfect background for doing travel business.

The rest of the floor space is taken up by the Liquor Haven with many varieties of spirits in appealing bottles to capture the eye.

When you look to the right there is a new retail counter made of reclaimed lumber and inset with the original ceiling tiles. A shadow box built into the front corner of the counter displays bottles that were found in the floor and ceiling joists, even a can of Heinz soup.

“Matt Kuhl with Milk River Designs built this for me because I was just out of time. He did a nice job on that”, Scott said with appreciation.

Looking beyond the variety of liquor available and up above the family and friends antlers on display (fitting since the last business in the building was taxidermy) on the back wall are a bank of windows that were originally above the entrance on Front Street. They were sandwiched in between the four layers removed and salvaged. A stained glass window was added by the Simanton’s.

Behind the retail liquor area the Simanton’s were able to add on a larger inventory area, an area to make up bar orders and a much needed break room and restroom. This additional 1000 square feet really made a difference for both the Haven’s. “It (the renovation) went faster than I thought it would. We started May 5th and we moved in November 5th, it was 6 months,” a satisfied Scott stated.

The Simanton’s are local history buffs and did a lot of research during the renovation process. The building was built in 1917 so it’s 100 years old. In previous Phillips County News Files it was called the East Room of the Edwards and McLellan Building which was built in 1910. On a tour underneath the rental area there is an overhead beam signed by the builder C. M. McLaugh (McLaughlin) and dated 1917.

Dennis McCrudden, the previous owner of the Edwards and McLellan Building (once known as Darla’s 3 Sister’s and now owned by April Ritchey and renamed Coffee Corner) shared several planning maps which the Simanton’s made copies of.

In 1910 there weren’t a lot of buildings in downtown Malta and in this spot were just small wooden buildings. Then in 1920 there’s the 5th Avenue Hotel and in the “L” shape of the building was a Drugstore, Hardware, Electrical, Laundry and Grocery. On the west entrance the map shows a Billiards and Barber. In 1930 the City Hall was located at the Front Street entrance, Fire Hall, Electrical, Radio and still the Billiards and Barber and at some time a Dress shop, too. In the 1950’s and beyond the building was Kronschnabel’s Dry Goods & Grocery, a Buttrey’s and then an Anthony’s clothing store.

This is where the tour of the basement areas began under the building. Kronschnabel’s once used the whole space, upstairs and downstairs. Some of the walls are uneven because the cement was poured right to the dirt wall leaving a Flintstone looking effect. There is an original wooden walk in cooler where Scott thought the meat cutter may have been that carried over to the area under where the new retail rental currently is. In this room is another name signed up above the door twice by Jim Messerly including the dates 1937, 38, 39, 40 and 41.

Up from the basement Scott led on to the back door of the new retail rental space which includes the south side of the Edwards and McLellan building. It is a long shotgun style building with tall walls and a high ceiling. Here you can see the exposed wood floor with gaps to the dirt basement below. The wood flooring was typically first used to form the concrete walls and then used to make the first layer of flooring. They were nailed down at an angle and were stronger that way.

As you walk from the west to east historically there was the Billiards and Barber, a Dress Shop and then a brick arched doorway is visible that once opened to the south and was the Fire Hall. This touches Scott because of the fact that his relatives were firemen in Malta during that time.

In the Thursday, October 20, 1955 issue of the Phillips County News on the 41st Anniversary of the founding of the Malta Fire Department a photo recognizes those family members.

Scott’s grandfather Robert Simanton, Sr. and great uncle Tom Simanton were original members of the Malta Fire Department in 1914.

From that area we proceeded into the dirt basement. More signatures could be found on a beam over head Harry ‘Precious’ Taylor, Walter D. Campbell, and D. Smith.

The Simanton’s are interested in any memories and history about the building and businesses once housed there. They can be reached at the store Facebook page the Liquor Haven and photos of the progress are documented there.

Once the Travel Haven business was finished Gina. joked that “We’re still married!” Then Gina lovingly revealed, “Actually it was a Valentine’s present from Scott!”

“Yes it was and we just have been real happy with the response we’ve had from the community. ‘Thank you for redoing that building’(someone had said)”, added Scott.

Gina chimed in, “That has been amazing, the people that have come in, even when we first started the project. They would stop in and we got hugs and phone calls. It’s just been so amazing that everyone has been so appreciative.”

The other Liquor Haven employees are Jessica Nelson and Carol Ann Lopez. Andres Lopez, Trey Simanton and Tony Ost worked with Scott doing the construction along with several local young men who helped out here and there.

Stop in at the store and reminisce they’re open from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m., six days a week on Monday – Saturday.

Basement and roof

Demolition begins!

Before photos

Call ~ 406.654.1617.  We are open 6 days a week.

Time to rebuild

Finishing Up!