Restore Oregon has just announced the 12 winners of the 2019 DeMuro Awards for Excellence in Preservation and Astoria's M&N Building is on the list! For more information about Restore Oregon, the DeMuro Awards and the Restoration Celebtation happening November 1st in Portland, please visit www.RestoreOregon.org.
Marcus and Michelle Liotta purchased the 8,000-square-foot M&N building on 9th and Commercial in downtown Astoria in 2016. Originally built in 1924, the building had remained vacant and derelict for 20 years under the ownership of Astoria’s infamous Flavel family. The enforcement of a derelict building ordinance, adopted in 2011 by the City of Astoria, finally forced the last remaining Flavel to release her Astoria holdings. Since their purchase of the property in 2016, Marcus and Michelle Liotta have diligently proceeded to shore-up, restore, and put back to use, this prominent downtown landmark. The building now houses five businesses in clean and colorful storefronts.
Time and neglect had not been kind to the building. Obvious cracks and settling, crumbling sidewalks and broken windows had been detracting from the beauty of the building for two full decades. Considered historically significant within the Astoria Downtown Historic District for both its association with the Flavel family (the building is named after Captain George Flavel’s wife and daughter) and because the brick veneer and terra cotta rosettes give it a higher-style than many of downtown’s finished concrete facades, the structure recently appeared to be on its last leg. In 2016, it was placed on Restore Oregon’s list of Most Endangered Places.
Thanks to the Liottas and their team, the M&N Building has been structurally stabilized. Along with the addition of more than 20 steel earth-anchors beneath the building, the once delaminating brick veneer and terra-cota has been restored, broken sidewalks and broken windows have been replaced, transoms have been uncovered, and freahly painted storefronts have been filled with new tenants. A sad corner of Astoria’s downtown has blossomed into a vibrant shop and restaurant space, while maintaining the original charm of the building and retaining some visual reminders of the building’s turbulent history.
In addition to being a quality example of thoughtful physical restoration and problem-solving engineering, witnessing the restoration of the M&N Building has been a cathartic experience for much of the local community. The building was the subject of over twenty articles in the Daily Astorian over the past decade, most being tied to uncertainty about the building’s future. The story of the Flavel family is one of wealth, prestige, mystery, misunderstanding and abundant local gossip. The restoration of the M&N building begins a new and distinctly positive chapter for our community. It also demonstrates that the City of Astoria’s enforcement of derelict building code can have a dramatic and positive impact on both economic development and community morale. Current tenants include; South Bay Wild fish market & restaurant, Terra Stones jewelry and gifts; Hill’s Wild Flour’s Bakery, Wild Roots Movement & Massage and the Liotta’s own Reclamation Marketplace.
UPDATE: The M&N Building was also awarded Best Historic Preservation Project at the 2019 Oregon Main Street Conference!