Makeover of historic hotel takes steel and restraint |

Makeover of historic hotel takes steel and restraint

Pat Patera

Carson City redevelopment efforts took one giant step forward with completion of renovation of the St. Charles Hotel across Carson Street from the state capitol complex.

It’s part of the city’s vision of mixed-use development and a pedestrian friendly downtown. To further that vision, the city awarded $100,000 in incentives to Lopiccolo Investments to help underwrite the $1.2 million restoration and renovation of the St. Charles Hotel, which in turn attracted a franchised restaurant.

Built in the mid-1800s, the hotel is on the National Register of Historic places. Exterior changes, such as railing and walkway and signage, had to be approved by the Historic Architectural Resource Commission.

“I think we’ve brought it back to its original splendor,” says Jenny Lopiccolo.

But the age of the building posed some structural problems for her husband Mark, owner of Lopiccolo Construction.

A big surprise lurked in the basement. When the ground floor was gutted, the crew discovered traces from the days when the building served as a settler fort. Wells and a cistern built for siege survival in the event of Indian attack were exposed. Artifacts dredged from them were put on display at the new restaurant, slated to open in January.

While engineers pronounced the building solid and in good shape, says Lopiccolo, steel posts were anchored in the footings and extended to the ceilings to reinforce existing walls. And all the windows and doors were reinforced to maintain the original brickwork.

The couple discovered a hornet’s nest of ancient infrastructure when they took down a dropped ceiling, hoping to restore the eight-foot space back to its original 14-foot grandeur.

“Bundles and scads of wiring and plumbing were crammed in above that ceiling,” says Lopiccolo. All new wiring and plumbing were installed a sensitive job considering that the top two floors were filled with residents and the new, fire resistant ceiling resulted in a 12-foot ceiling height.

Lopiccolo Investments owns several parcels on the Third Street corridor, occupied by a restaurant and service businesses.

“I grew up here,” says Lopiccolo. “I just love the downtown area. I think that’s going to be the retail core of the city.”