The Story of the Historic Stranges Grocery Store in Grand Junction
The word "Grocery" leaves a clue for passers-by about what used to be inside the building at 226 Pitkin Avenue in Grand Junction.
The building is one of the only remaining unaltered structures in town that used to be part of the city's 'Little Italy' section.
The Story of Stranges Grocery in Grand Junction
In 1909, people went to the grocery store almost every day or nearly every other day. Stranges represented how central Little Italy was to the Italian community of the time. The sandstone structure represents the regional architecture of the early 1900s built by the Grasso family who was well-known in Grand Junction according to the National Park Service. They used sandstone from the Book Cliffs to create the building which was run by the original owners until the 1940s.
Stranges Grocery is listed on the National List of Historic Places worthy of being preserved for future generations. The two-story building was modeled after Italiante and Romanesque architecture and featured 2 rooms on the first floor and 3 apartments on the second floor. The apartments were big enough for a bed, a dresser, and a bath and were thought to be used for Italian immigrants who were visiting Grand Junction or soon to be relocating here according to the Colorado Encyclopedia.
The Railroad and the Rise of Little Italy in Grand Junction
Where would Grand Junction be if not for the railroad? It may not even be here without the thousands of railroad workers who were part of the expansion of the American West in the late 1800s. The folks at the Museum of Western Colorado have records that indicate the tens of thousands of Italians who worked for the railroad built up their own 'Little Italy' in Grand Junction that some say the number was as high as 40,000 people.
During the peak of Italian immigrants in the 1910s and 1920s, discrimination caused many of these immigrants to concentrate safely inside the confines of Grand Junction's Little Italy until about the time of the great depression.
Those folks needed a place to buy food and supplies and that is how Stranges Grocery came to be. Various accounts say the store mainly sold canned products, some vegetables, sausages, and was a place people could buy a newspaper and socialize with the other residents of the Little Italy area.
The Great Depression and the End Stranges
The Great Depression forced a lot of people to move on from the Little Italy area of Grand Junction until the significance began to be forgotten by some. Stranges Grocery was said to last be occupied as a grocery store in 1963. Since then it remains an empty piece of Colorado history. The city does a good job of looking after the building. Parking is available around the corner from the old store location allowing visitors to walk less than a block to be able to get a good photo.
For even more historical places in Mesa County, travel back in time with us by diving into the photo gallery below.