Building owners revealed a bit of Kimberley history while renovating their building on the corner of Mark Street and Wallinger Avenue.
Under the old stucco they uncovered the building’s original siding, still adorned with the painted advertisements from Muraca’s grocery store, originally opened by Antonio (Tony) Muraca in 1936.
According to the book Mountain Treasures: The History of Kimberley, B.C., Muraca first moved to Kimberley with his father in 1924 and went to work in the mine for 12 years. He opened his grocery store in 1936 in the front of the building, which was originally the Baragon building, but had been purchased by a Mr. Strilchuk.
The store was an Italian grocer and lunch counter. The Kimberley Heritage Museum has images of the building, which survived the 1948 flood, as well as menus from the lunch counter, from back when you could get a bacon and egg breakfast for $1, marked up in pencil at some point in time to $1.15, a steak for $2.25, or a milkshake for $0.35.
Muraca joined the Canadian Royal Scottish Regiment in Calgary and went overseas during the Second World War and saw action on the European continent. In Devon, England, he met Phyllis Tanock, who he married in November of 1946.
He returned to Kimberley in November of 1946 and received his discharge from Calgary in March, with his wife arriving soon after.
Mr. Strilchuk decided to sell the building in 1959, and the Muracas moved across the street, into the building which now houses Togs Family Consignment Store, previously known as Togs and Toys.
Mountain Treasures says that the coffee shop Tony and Phyllis opened was expanded upon the move to the new premises, and that “the tourist trade was very good before the main highway was changed to bypass Kimberley.
The Muracas had two children, Anthony (Tony Jr.) and Angelina (Angie). Tony passed away in April of 1975, at which point Phyllis sold the business and their home.
One Facebook post about the building had several Kimberley residents commenting their memories, or their parents’ memories about Muraca’s.
According to the poster, the boards have been carefully removed so the building owner can complete the insulation work to preserve the structure, and they have not yet decided what to do with the boards.