By Diane Cannon Piwowarczyk
The Augusta Emporium located at 5595 Walnut Street is the first to open of the several buildings undergoing renovation by David and Jerri Hoffmann as part of the Hoffmann Family of Companies $100 million investment in Augusta. The revamped general store marked the occasion with a well-attended ribbon cutting in the company of business leaders, city officials, Chamber of Commerce members, visitors and guests. David Hoffmann, owner, with his wife Jerri beside him, cut the
In recent years the Emporium had operated as an antique store and in its new adaptation will serve visitors with sundries, wine, and food. Local produce and fresh eggs are featured near the entrance. One can purchase cheese, crackers and meats for alfresco picnicking to enjoy at the local wineries. Wines from the Hoffmann owned wineries are available along with a curated mix of decor and gifts. The Emporium has been repainted and freshened up; but the renovated interior retains its early nineteenth century charm with 14’ high ceilings, the original tin ceiling tiles and finds like the antique counter sourced from the AntiqueBarn in Warrenton, Missouri.
The Emporium building has a long history of serving the Augusta Community. The original building (the lower portion with Jackson Street access) was constructed in the 1860s. The Emporium is housed in the 1880’s addition facing Walnut Street.
Attending the ribbon cutting were siblings Joyce (Knoernchild) Holtmann and Leon Knoerchild. Their father, Fred Knoerchild and his brother purchased the AG Store in 1938. After a couple of years his brother moved to Femme Osage and Fred became the sole owner. Fred's sister, Francis Ameling, and Marvin Fuhr, also known as Mopps, worked in the store with him. The right half of the store served as the grocery store, stocked with canned goods, meats and produce; the left side of the building held general merchandise and hardware. Also, customers could bring in a clipping of an appliance or TV they would like to order and Fred would source the product and order it for them. Joyce (Knoernschild) Holtmann recalls purchasing her school shoes there each year. Her dad kept a limited stock of shoes in the store. Fred sold the store to Melvin Fuhr in 1968. Leon shared photos of the store when it was under his dad's ownership, old black and white images of the interior and some of the storefront. He recalled how his dad would give the kids candy while their parents shopped.
The Knoerchilds lived directly across the street (now the Lindenhof Bed & Breakfast), in 1954 the family moved to a new home their father built at 169 Jackson. Although, as both Joyce and Leon explained, back then, the streets were not named. Each resident had a mailbox/slot at the post office, "People just knew where you lived,” they both explained. At that time the Post Office was located on the site of the current Augusta Visitor Center.
Asked on her thoughts on the changes being made in her childhood hometown, Joyce replied, "The wineries serve food and people don't visit the town, but the trolley will bring people into town. Augusta was dying, and now it is coming back to life. My dad would be elated to see his old store looking so fresh and serving the public again."
Leon considered the question and replied, "The town needed a boost. I know some residents are concerned Augusta will lose its small town feel. I hope it works out for them." On what his dad would think of his old store, "He was a staunch old school German, he'd be concerned at the speed the changes are happening. But he would be happy to see the store open again and the improvements the Hoffmann's have made.”
Unveiled at the Grand Opening were artist renderings by Killeen Studio Architects of the conference, spa and hotel center. As promised, the buildings are planned to blend well with the town and the surrounding landscape and will surround a large indoor/outdoor pool with cabanas. A vineyard borders one side of the property and a hiking biking trail leads to town. The location will be near Church Road with access to Highway 94. Click here to read: Hoffmann Family of Companies Finalizes Land Purchase for Hotel
The Augusta Emporium General Store is open seven days a week. Monday - Saturday 10:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. and Sunday 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Town board members, Chamber of Commerce members, visitors and guests joined in as David Hoffmann, with his wife Jerri beside him, cut the ceremonial ribbon.
L - R: Leon Knoerchild, Beth Ducker (Hoffmann Consultant), Joyce (Knoernchild) Holtman
and Richard Holtman.
One of the photos Leon Knoerchild shared of the store when it was under his dad's ownership.
The coolers, filled with frozen and fresh items, including pizzas, fresh sausages and cheeses and much more.
A selection of wines from the Hoffmannowned wineries.Candy counter.
Items for sale in the Emporium.
Items for sale in the Emporium.
Unveiled at the Grand Opening were artist renderings by Killeen Studio Architects of the
conference, spa and hotel center.