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Hubble’s efforts on High Street feted

Connie Hubble, the owner of the buildings located at 616-618 E. High St. in Jefferson City, was recently honored with the Golden Hammer Award.

Connie Hubble, the owner of the buildings located at 616-618 E. High St. in Jefferson City, was recently honored with the Golden Hammer Award. Photo by Julie Smith.

A pair of historic, commercial buildings have been revived for a new century in the near East Side neighborhood of Jefferson City.

Although 616 and 618 E. High St. occupy the same inlot, they were constructed at different times.

The 616 building appears on city maps dating back to 1898. Oral history suggests 618 was built in the early 1920s.

Interestingly, 618 was not built plumb east to west from 616 but rather “flowed” from 616 to 620, owner Connie Hubble said.

“This resulted in a proper front appearance ... (but) added some challenges when constructing new interior walls,” Connie Hubble said.

Charles and Cholista Steppelman operated a grocery store at 616 after 1915, and the family held the property for the next 75 years.

Grace Steppelman inherited the property from her parents in the mid-1930s. Later, she held a co-ownership with her brother Percy until her death.

Percy Steppelman operated Steppelman’s Electric Company at 618 before opening Steppelman’s Sporting Goods there.

In the early 1950s, 616 was divided and half was leased to a father-son doctor team, Eugene Lake and Leon Lake.

The front of the second half was L.E. Scrivner’s barber shop and later owned and operated by Oscar Tyree. Norm Luebbert, whose barber career began under Tyree, eventually took ownership and remained until the late 1990s.

The rear portion of the second half was a beauty salon, then the offices of Dr. R.D. Bradley.

In the early 1970s, 616 became Skipper Surbaugh’s sporting goods store and remained that until David Gilmore bought the property about 1990 to open the Western Store and Saddle Shop.

Prior to the 1950s, oral history suggests 618 housed a variety of businesses, including a bar and Mel Allen’s Red Payne restaurant.

Most recently, 618 was a kitchen and bath renovation company, then was vacant for many years before the Hubbles bought it in January 2011.

Vacancy and neglect had left no choice for the Hubbles but extensive demolition and renovation, Connie Hubble said.

They did preserve as much of the buildings’ character as possible.

With new utility infrastructure, roofs, walls, ceilings, floors and windows, “the results are two, new 100-plus-year-old buildings,” Connie Hubble said.

“The interiors are very up to date and the exteriors have been secured for the future.”

The Historic City of Jefferson named this recent rehabilitation project as its June Golden Hammer award recipient.

“Their two buildings are excellent examples of how you can blend the past with the present,” said committee member Janet Maurer. “The Hubbles were able to keep the character of the past exterior architecture and provide modern structure and requirements on the interior.

“It is exciting to know these buildings will be around now for businesses and tenants to enjoy for another 100 years.”

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