A major retrofit of a building that has been around since around the dawn of Mill Valley is bound to produce some revelations.

One such revelation came this week, as the construction work on the building at the corner of Throckmorton and Corte Madera avenues – historically known as O’Shaughnessy Building – revealed the former billboard-sized sign for Purity Market, the first grocery store chain in Mill Valley, on the side of the building that faces the Depot Plaza.

According to Barbara Ford of the Mill Valley Historical Society, Purity Market was open from 1929 to 1957 in the building before it relocated to the large building that contains The Cantina restaurant out on East Blithedale Avenue and Camino Alto. From the late 1970s until January 2008, the building was home to the flagship store of Banana Republic, the global brand created by Mill Valley residents Mel and Patricia Ziegler. The Tyler Florence Shop opened there in 2008.

The retrofit work is part of the preparation for the construction of the four already-approved “Aloha Lofts” residential units on the second floor of the building. That work caused Richard Leland to move his Vintage Wine & Spirits across the street, ending the space’s liquor link that dates back to shortly after Prohibition ended. The Tyler Florence Shop has timed the retrofit work and upstairs construction to close temporarily and do some remodeling of its own, garnering a permit last month to add a demonstration kitchen and to hold classes and private events, limited alcohol sales, and limited filming of online content.

The Planning Commission approved the Aloha Lofts – four rental units between 750 and 940 square feet in size – in October 2012. It is owned by Lee Lum L.P., which has owned the building and the large parking lot behind it for 20 years.The building was built by Michael O’Shaughnessy, who owned it until he died in 1934, according to Ford.

The upstairs space was condemned in 1956 after serving as a lodging house of sorts during World War II for employees of the Sausalito Shipyards and the Red Cross, operating under the name the Aloha Lido Hotel. Incredibly, the 4,000-square-foot upstairs space at Throckmorton and Corte Madera avenues has been empty ever since, through multiple building owners and many popular tenants in the storefronts below.

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