An old vacant building is getting new life, again. One of OFallons most important historical buildings, Wachters Hall, 226 W. State St., was purchased by an OFallon-based business and is receiving a $1 million renovation. Salvatore Cincotta Photography will move into the building after renovations are complete in about four months.
Known as Wachters Hall for the man who built it, Michael Wachter, it was last occupied as a warehouse for Schwarz Furniture. The building is receiving a top-to-bottom rehab though Sal Cincotta and his wife, Taylor, say they will maintain and restore original architectural features. Once completed the 12,000 square-foot, three-story building will serve as headquarters and studios for the Cincottas award-winning international business that specializes in weddings.
In their photography business, the Cincottas have worked with everyone from the St Louis Cardinals to the White House, having had the opportunity to photograph President Obama.
Cincotta expects the business to employ 20 with the renovated building serving as studios and offices. Sal Cincotta is also an author, speaker, and trainer and writer for Rangefinder Magazine, an industry magazine focused on photography.
Wachters Hall has had many uses throughout its history and was given a Heritage Award in 2004 by the city of OFallon. Cincotta said he would also like to seek the "historic landmark" designation through the OFallon Historic Preservation Commission once renovation is complete.
Built in the late 19th Century, Wachters Hall served as OFallons playhouse until Joseph Taylor built an Opera House at 220 E State in 1908, said Brian Keller, president of the OFallon Historical Society. O'Fallon High School's first commencement exercises were held there in 1903. It was best known as the site of concerts, plays, shows, dances, meetings and silent movies.
The buildings original pine flooring is in good condition and will be refinished. New windows will be wood composite and will restore the original look of the building, said Cincotta.
"The old doors dont meet the fire code so they will be replaced but were turning them into furniture," he said. Nothing of the old building will be wasted. H & L Builders is doing the renovation.
Cincotta, originally from New York, and Taylor, from Houston, began their business in OFallon five years ago on East First Street.
It now encompasses five separate businesses that include Shutter Magazine, photo editing services, wedding albums and educational workshops.
While looking for a new place to move their growing business, they decided to stay in OFallon.
The truth is we absolutely love it here," said Cincotta.
He also praised city officials for supporting the renovation effort. The Cincottas website is at salcincotta.com.