ALAMOSA — It’s only fitting that a building constructed with recycled parts using Depression era labor would now be selling recycled items through a thrift store benefitting the local homeless shelter and associated services.
The Alamosa Historic Preservation Advisory Committee during May as Historic Preservation Month installed a plaque at the Bain Building, which now houses La Puente shelter home’s thrift store enterprise, Rainbow’s End.
La Puente Director Lance Cheslock said Joseph Bain and his son Victor constructed the 150-foot long building in the 1930’s using a hodgepodge of used materials, some of which was salvaged from the 1921 Pueblo flood. Reused bricks, recycled railroad rails and different lengths of floorboards were some of the materials giving the structure character.
“It’s a piece of history,” Cheslock said. “We think it’s synchronistic, an amazing coincidence that the mission right now is selling recycled goods that people gave us to repurpose.”
“This area being what it is, we do a lot with recycling, reuse, repurpose, because we don’t have much,” Alamosa Historic Preservation Advisory Committee Chairman Ralph Symbleme said. “This was ahead of the curve.”
Bain built the two-story structure during the heart of the Depression and provided jobs for the construction workers who built it.
The building, which was completed in 1935, was initially a department store on the ground floor with apartments above. All types of goods from food and clothing to household supplies were sold at the Bain store.
Symbleme said at the time the building was one of the three largest structures in Alamosa, with another being the courthouse.
Joseph Bain died in 1950, and in 1954 Miles and Alice Acheson leased the building for a furniture, hardware and appliance store. In 1983 Harvey and Christine Heersink bought the building, selling the Hunt Avenue section to Francis and Kathrine Snyder in 1985. In 1994 La Puente acquired the Main Street portion and in 1998 the Hunt Avenue section, with the building transformed into Rainbow’s End and Hunt Avenue Boutique.
Cheslock said that between these stores and Milagros Coffee House, there are 5,000 transactions a month supporting La Puente services.
He thanked the historic advisory committee for its work in preserving history in the community. “These buildings have a lot of stories to tell,” he said.
Symbleme said Alamosa gets a fair amount of tourists who do the historic walking tour and are impressed with the history here.
Councilman Jan Vigil added that hopefully people who come here to look at the historic structures will stay for other activities. He commended Symbleme and the other members of the historic advisory committee for their work in preserving Alamosa’s history.
Alamosa Mayor Ty Coleman also commended the historic preservation committee and Councilman Vigil “for the hard work and commitment they put into preserving the history of our great city.”
He commended La Puente for repurposing the Bain Building for a thrift store as well as the upstairs for affordable housing, which is especially important to him.
Symbleme also thanked La Puente for its dedication in providing services not only in Alamosa but also throughout the San Luis Valley, through the food bank network for example.
Rainbow’s End Manager Rich Stepp said the store is here to serve the community and because of the community. “We are here to give them a good deal … We are simply here to help. We care. We care about the community because without them we wouldn’t be anything. We would be an empty building. I am surprised by the value we receive for the size of the Valley, the value of donations. It shows me the support for La Puente.”
The store has about eight staff but many volunteers who also help including those who are mandated to community service. “It’s a huge help to us,” Stepp said.
Cheslock said La Puente may get credit for things, but “we are the witness of this community coming together for things we believe in. It’s really the community that keeps showing up.”
Caption: At the dedication of the historic plaque at the Bain Building (Rainbow’s End Thrift Store) in downtown Alamosa are from left Alamosa Mayor Ty Coleman, Councilman Jan Vigil and daughter Concetta, Alamosa Historic Preservation Advisory Committee Chairman Ralph Symbleme, Rainbow’s End Manager Rich Stepp, Rainbow’s End staff Ryan Barnes, Russell Cash, Cassidy Thornburg and Lacy Stepp and La Puente Director Lance Cheslock./Courier photo by Ruth Heide