The cornerstone of Lockeford’s rich history was too historic to tear down, but residents and merchants remained disappointed for two decades or more as plywood dominated the facade.
Not any more.
The building, completed in 1883 by Lockeford pioneer Dean Jewett Locke, has been restored and houses an antique and collectible shop.
After 14 months, Southern California transplant Patrick Fischer has remodeled the structure on Highway 88 and Elliott Road. The plywood is all gone, and the numerous pigeons who have called it home have moved on.
Fischer opened Lockeford Jewelry & Loan on May 16, but the official grand opening is set for Saturday.
With the help of numerous people in Lockeford, Fischer performed the monumental work needed to make the Locke building habitable.
There was literally no front to the building. There was no electrical or plumbing system. A new roof was needed to avoid leakage when it rained. And the pigeons, bats and rodents had to be removed.
“The random bat comes in, but I’m vector-free, as they call it in the animal control business,” Fischer said.
Though he lived in Santa Monica at the time, Fischer bought the structure in April 2010, but he left his wife behind while working on his dream to open a business in a historic building in a small town. It’s been a grueling year dealing with the permitting process and all the work that needed to be done.
“It’s really exciting to see him finally smile,” Fischer’s wife, Marta, said on Monday.
Since Lockeford Jewelry & Loan opened, people come in and chit-chat with Fischer. That’s a labor of love because if there’s anyone who loves to talk, it’s Patrick Fischer.
“I can’t say enough about this town,” he said. “People kept saying, ‘What can I do to help?’”
Fischer credits such people as Sharon Godat, owner of Lockeford True Value Hardware, who installed decorative curtains where the new windows are; the Lockeford Grange and Odd Fellows lodge, who helped him in the permitting process with San Joaquin County; Timothy Fowler, president of the Clements-Lockeford Chamber of Commerce; Lani Eklund, who chairs the Lockeford Municipal Advisory Council and operates the Inn at Locke House bed and breakfast inn; history buff Gary Gordon; San Joaquin County Supervisor Ken Vogel and the county Community Development Department.
“The guy stuck with it, and I tip my cap to him,” said Frank Hogge, a member of the Grange and Odd Fellows. “It has certainly brightened up the corner.”
Eklund said she understands Fischer’s love for a small town like Lockeford and why people like him move to the area.
“You’re buying the whole spirit of the community,” Eklund said. “It’s nice to walk to the Post Office and see people you know.”
Lockeford Jewelry & Loan has two distinct components — odd knick-knacks for sale and a money-lending business.
You will find everything from saddles, Mexican sombreros and guitars to an old-fashioned Coke machine, juke box and even an opium bed. And to keep his former Santa Monica home alive, he has some surfboards for sale.
As for the financial part of the business, Fischer said he will lend money, deciding on his own whether the customer’s collateral is worth it.
In addition to his wife, the shop is staffed by Renee Cantrell, who works four days a week at the store and one day at nearby Country Cafe, and the family dog, Goose.
Goose may be a funny name for a dog, but Cantrell and the Fischers swear to it that he honks like a goose. Really.
Contact reporter Ross Farrow at email@example.com.