After nearly 12 years at its original location on North First Street in downtown Canby, the Canby Music store is about to have a new home. And we mean that in every sense of the word.
Their new location is a commercial property on the corner of Douglas and First next to Neurotherapeutic Pediatric Therapies, which is, in fact, a historic home. And despite its commercial zoning, it’s pretty much just been a home ever since it was built in 1923 by a man named Chris Huiras.
“Next to us is what’s now Neuro, but everybody kind of still knows it as a restaurant: Jarboe’s, Grand Central, the Elm Street Inn,” said Canby Music owner Brian Haines, standing inside the nearly 100-year-old structure last week. “I actually found about 100 old menus from the Elm Street Inn upstairs. The two properties have been owned together for a long time, and I think it used to be that whoever was running the restaurant was actually living in the house.”
For Haines, the move is exciting — and terrifying. Transforming a residential property into a commercial one is no small feat — especially when the structure was built almost a century ago.
Haines and his team have stripped the building’s insides down to the original, hand-hewn 2x4s. The interior will be completely renovated, rewired and refinished.
Despite the challenges of the renovation, it’s easy to see why he chose the place over other commercial properties in Canby.
“There are other places I could have looked at, like, around Wait Park, but I wanted to be on First Avenue facing 99E, like I always have been” he said. “This place is zoned commercial, it’s big, it’s got a lot of property, it’s nice, but it’s just going to take a lot of work to get us there.”
His reasons for moving are just as obvious, and can be summed up in a single word: space. In his current digs, Haines’ tiny office doubles as a lesson room, storage room, break room, cafeteria and — on several occasions — a podcast recording studio.
The new store will have four dedicated lesson rooms downstairs. The main floor will be all retail, while the top floor (for employees only) will be the office, storage area and repair workshop.
In other words, the space will still be multipurpose, but hey — at least it’s three times as big.
Outside, Haines has already repainted the place to an “on-brand” Canby Music blue, and has the sign going up this week. The side porch is wired for concerts and he’s going to build a surrounding patio using reclaimed bricks from the former house’s former fireplace and chimney.
He’ll also be cleaning up the grounds and adding a parking area.
Once the sign is up, Haines expects to be inundated with questions from curious residents — who were already wondering what was going on with “that big, blue house on the corner.”
“There are good things happening here at 590 NW First,” Haines said. “Everybody likes watching the progress.”
That includes Canby native William Keyser. For him, that big, blue house is his childhood home, and he said he’s glad to see it being restored and repurposed.
“I’ve been watching the process and just loving all the improvements,” he said. “The house has good bones, and I’m glad they’re going to be using it.”
In one of those twists that make the old-timers shake their heads and say, “That’s Canby,” Keyser and Haines’ father, Norman, are old friends and former high school classmates. Not only that, they were born in the same hospital, on the exact same day.
Keyser has a lot of fond memories of growing up in what his folks always called “the old Huiras place.”
He loved to explore the area beyond the Canby Post Office, which is now a residential subdivision but was then a working sawmill, its grounds littered with bark and wood chips.
“When I was a child, like 5 or 6, I would go down there and catch lizards that lived underneath the bark,” he recalled. “Then, I would take a shovel and my wagon and dig up trees and bring them back home and plant them in the yard.”
His parents never knew what he was up to, but you could ask Haines about them. He was the one who had to remove those same trees, decades later, and have them carted out on a logging truck.
Keyser, who owns Merrywood Farm on South Casto Road east of town, thought it was funny that he would wind up in the Christmas tree business, where he sometimes plants 150 trees a day.
“I guess I’m still doing the same old stuff,” he said, chuckling.
Dusty menus for long-defunct restaurants were not all Haines found when he bought the place. There was also this old cabinet that looked like it might be an antique.
Norman Haines reached out to Keyser, who confirmed that it had belonged to his family and that he’d love to have it back, but he was too busy with Christmas tree customers to come get it. So, the Haineses loaded it up and delivered it themselves.
“Bill told me later that he used to play in it when he was a kid,” Brian said of the cabinet. “He even drew a steering wheel inside and pretended to drive around in it. He uses it to store his homemade wine now.”
Guess no one ever told him not to drink and drive? Anyway…
Haines said he does not have a definitive timeline for the move and grand opening, but he’s aiming for this summer.
“We don’t have a timeframe,” he said. “It’s still going to be months. But I’m hoping to get in here in the summertime. We’ll see how it goes.”
After a moment, he added with a laugh:
“Oh, and we’re going to do a lot of big sales before we move, because I don’t want to move all that stuff.”