In 2014, the same year we became parents, we took a huge leap and purchased an historic commercial building in downtown Miami, Arizona. Miami is an old mining town with an incredibly rich history and which remains a key part of Arizona's story.
The two-story building, 2800 square foot on each floor, was built in 1915, and at the time we purchased it had been sitting empty for upwards of three decades. There was a colony of bats living in an upstairs bedroom and hundreds of pigeons flying in and out of the open windows.
The staircase to climb to the top floor was completely unsafe to use, and so a ladder was secured to access the rooms through an upstairs window, which we boarded up the first week we took ownership. The front door, a unique rolling door design that slides on radius rail into the shop, was so dilapidated from years of neglect it would not open.
Looking beyond the wear, the age, the mess, the sheer magnitude of a project this size, Tim, as he always has been able to do, could see the potential. The walls are solid poured concrete, a foot thick with steel reinforcement, and the first floor ceiling joists are 12" tall on 12" centers rough sawn full dimension, solid pine.
We really saw the building as an opportunity to continue our entrepreneurial path. At this time, Pin Drop Travel Trailers wasn't even on our minds, the name was still floating in the universe. We were attracted to the commercial district, the historical nature of the community, and the large work space that could be used in a variety of ways. Exactly what we would use it for was still to be determined.
In fading cracked paint on the front of the building is an old hand-painted sign advertising the "Rosslyn Rooms, Under New Management". The Rosslyn Rooms, as it was known way back before the 1940's, was the upstairs living space for miners and had 19 small (real small!) bedrooms. Likely the rooms were rented out in shifts that aligned with the mine work schedule. It's also quite possible the rooms were used to satisfy other miners' needs.
Six years in, having invested long weekends and holidays, family time off, and any spare moment chipping away at the building's structural needs, the Factory (as we call it) is on the upswing. We somehow scared away the bat colony, likely with loud late night albums vibrating off the walls. Nudged along with broom handles and a pellet rifle, the pigeons got the hint and moved on pretty quickly after we started covering the windows.
A new electrical service panel and conduit install removed any suspicion about the condition of existing wiring. We gave the lower level a face lift by pulling down the smoke-smudged 100 year old plaster from the ceiling and applying a fresh coat of paint, keeping with the original color scheme. We have met a local body builder, literally, who enjoys manual labor. To our delight, he has been slowly and methodically demolishing the upstairs rooms swing by swing and shovel by shovel.
Constructed with lath and plaster over a forest full of thick full dimension studs, our friend has painstakingly removed the plaster with a crow bar and sledge hammer and each piece of lath one by one. With all the activity in the last six months, we have successfully removed 15 tons (that's 30,000 lbs.) of debris just from the upper level.
The Factory can breathe again. The weight that has been removed has given this beauty a new lot on life. With the kick off to Pin Drop Travel Trailers in 2018, a tear drop travel trailer business, the Factory has naturally become the solution for a spacious fabrication and building location for our micro camper manufacturing company. Pin Drop Travel Trailers started 2020, with a new steel Pin Drop sign that has been cantilevered off the front of the building, officially identifying the building's recent use change and upgrades.
After 105 years, and multiple adaptations of this historic gem in the heart of Miami, Arizona, the building has found its new purpose. We are honored to be part of its next incarnation. The Pin Drop Factory is located at 168 North Miami Avenue in Miami, Arizona.