Pittsburg residents can look forward to a new kind of entertainment choice with the opening of The Fun Depot, located in the historic Pittsburg Foundry and Machine Company building, 104 N. Locust, Pittsburg.
Local business owner Larry Fields purchased the building in 2018. Fields said that he received a lot of ideas on what to do with the space, but he wanted something people all ages and from all walks of life could enjoy.
The Fun Depot will offer a 26-foot climbing wall, a state-of-the-art golf simulator, two bounce houses, antiques on display, spaces for private parties, corporate events, and business meetings and more. If everything goes as scheduled, the entertainment center will open for business next month.
“We’re (going to) try to open October 17th,” Fields said. “We’ll probably do a couple open houses prior to that and let people come in and kick the tires.”
This is not Fields’ first renovation in Pittsburg. In 2017 he opened the Frisco Event Center, a former railroad depot on East Fourth Street, a block east of Block 22.
“The same railroad built this building first, and then that one (Frisco),” Fields said. “It was actually Kansas City, Fort Scott and Memphis (railroad) which became the Frisco.”
The building is 14,500-square-feet, with 50-foot high ceilings and three levels of windows. It dates to 1886 when as Pittsburg Machine & Foundry it employed 360 men who made rail cars, shovels and lunch buckets; everything miners needed for their livelihood. In more recent years, the building was known as the “old Pittcraft building”, not only because of the fact that Pittcraft owned the building, but also its 140-foot-long painted sign on the side of the building. After the business moved to its new location in 2000, the building sat empty until Fields purchased it.
In the beginning, students in Denise Bertoncino’s Interior Design course in the PSU School of Construction produced several schematic designs for the renovation. That was the second time Interior Design students worked with a community partner to revitalize a historic building. The time before they helped design Signet Coffee’s Airbnb, Signet Loft.
“They had a lot of talent,” Fields said of the PSU students. “I’ve got a nice write up, and I’m going to put up a plaque with the list of the names and put them on the board.”
According to Darcy Schultz, Fun Depot manager, they haven’t quite figured out what the cost of the different services will be, but they plan to make it affordable for everybody.
“So, there’s a lot of different ways (to do it), but right now what we are looking at is doing a daily fee that would allow access to certain activities and programs,” Schultz said. “Then, for other items, like the golf simulator or the rock wall, that would be an add-on ticket to the base price. We might have some bundled packages or memberships; there’s a lot of different routes we can go.”
On display are numerous antiques Fields has saved from different demolitions. One unusual piece is a Robertson 580 camera with a Nikon lens in it. The camera is 18 feet long and 4½ feet wide, and it stands almost seven feet tall. Fields said it still works, although he plans to put it on display and place a photo booth next to it. According to Fields, there are only three like it in the country—one at the Smithsonian, one in the Chicago Museum of Art, and this one in Pittsburg.
Also refurbished from the past is Field’s storage unit, a Quonset hut he will use to store the numerous antiques he plans to display in the family center.
“This actually was an U.S. Navy aircraft hangar (made in) Oakland, CA 1941,” Fields said. “I’ve got an old 1908 bookbinder, a printing press, a 1941 Coke machine, a 1940 Pepsi machine and (other) things that I’ll move in and out and put them on display.”
Fields said he is not only happy to have saved another historic Pittsburg building from demolition, but also for the opportunity to provide a new kind of entertainment choice for the community.
“I really believe we need something in Pittsburg for families,” Fields said, adding that the area has “great little leagues” for children, an aquatic center and great dance programs, but he wanted to give families “something fun they can go do together.”