BY NATALIE WINTERS
The Newberry Building in downtown Stockton is a testimonial to the vibrancy of the city’s past and remains today part of Stockton’s urban renewal.
J.J. Newberry founded the American five-and-dime store chain in 1911 in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania and it grew to become a retail power house. By 1961, the company had operated stores in 45 American states and Canada—Stockton being one of the cities Newberry thrived in.
They sold home goods and clothing to every aspect of small-scale shopping, spools of thread, cocoa butter, hangers—you name it. The store also featured a soda fountain that many Stocktonians remember with fondness.
“We used to go and eat lunch there at the counter—everyone went there,” said Sharon Maragliano, Stockton resident. “I remember it was just such a huge store, they carried a little bit of everything.”
The Newberry department store shut down in 1997, and stood empty for almost two decades until Ten Space, a company focused on catalyzing communities often times through the reuse of existing buildings, took on the project and brought the Newberry building back to life.
David Garcia, director of community development at Ten Space, shared insight into the company’s plan and vision when renovating the building.
“Our attention to the building’s historic character mixed with our ability to integrate fresh contemporary design elements makes this project a great representative of the kind of design and development that we are known for,” said Garcia.
The building that was home to Newberry’s was originally built in the 1920s and the department store later moved into it in the 1940s. Renovation began in mid-2014, including restoration of the neon Newberry sign that encompasses the façade of the building.
“I think what makes it so iconic is the rich history it has in downtown Stockton,” said Garcia. “We speak to individuals all the time who have very fond memories of going to the department store when they were kids and it’s unfortunate that over the last few decades the building had been so abandoned… it was such a big piece of people’s lives growing up.”
Stockton resident Darlene Ferrario shared her memories of the Newberry building from a time when she worked right downtown at Sims-Grupe Real Estate.
“We used to take our coffee breaks there,” said Ferrario. “The building itself just seemed so big — the high ceilings, the bargain basement. Nowadays it would be like the 99 cent store, but back then you thought you had a bargain with a five and dime.”
Recently, Ten Space received an Award of Merit in the category of Downtown Revitalization from the 2015 San Joaquin Valley Blueprint Awards for their work on the Newberry Building. The program recognizes achievements and practices in a built environment and encourages quality in planning and development across eight counties in the Central Valley.
The company built custom improvements for the inside of the building, including opening up the windows to allow for more natural lighting, maintaining the original exposed brick, the use of open ceiling trusses and was able to save all of the original hardwood floors on the second story.
“After restoring and renovating the building, we brought it to 100 percent occupancy,” said Garcia. “We’ve had a positive response not only from the tenants that are happy to be in a brand new space, but also from the community members with the building brought back to life.”
The Newberry building is now home to two downtown Stockton dining locations (Papa Urb’s and Alfalfa’s Pizza and Deli), The Campus daycare and early childhood development facility, the Filipino American National Historical Society Museum and the Child Abuse Prevention Council.
“I’m glad to see the building being used,” said Maragliano. “The downtown area was a vital part of Stockton in the ‘50s and ‘60s and it’s good to see the area being revitalized.”