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Then and Now, 356 Main St., Longmont (photo by Lisa Truesdale)

Growing up in Longmont in the 1940s and ’50s, Dora Hildebrand recalls that most of the family’s food came from her grandfather’s farm, and she doesn’t remember ever going to restaurants. But she’ll never forget the once-in-a-while treat of getting to go to the Watts-Hardy Dairy Store on Main Street. “They served the most wonderful ice cream concoctions,” she says.

Like most of the historic buildings in downtown Longmont, 356 Main St. has a colorful history, with a variety of businesses taking up residence there since it was constructed in 1883 (with a façade remodel in 1938). It was a pharmacy and then a candy shop before the dairy moved in, and after the dairy left, it was Gene’s Sport Shop, and then Cummings Shoe Store for nearly 40 years.

Salli Landers Gutierrez leased the space from Mrs. Cummings in the late 1990s for Backstage Performing Arts, and the space was completely redone. She added mirrors to the south wall and transformed the floor into a stunning parquet one, suitable for her flamenco, ballet and hip-hop lessons.

When the Muse Gallery moved into the building in 2004, the folks at ArtsLongmont (then called Longmont Council for the Arts) were especially pleased to see the beautiful wood floor.

“It’s the perfect floor for a gallery,” says Joanne Kirves, ArtsLongmont’s executive director. “And we’ve even made use of it as a dance floor a few times, like when we had a Latin Dance Night for a Cinco de Mayo event a few years ago.”

–by Lisa Truesdale