Al and Luanna Niece, from Blanco County, TX, purchased the dilapidated building at 6th and Main in June 2023 to renovate.
Al Niece owns Niece Equipment of Kansas and has had a plant in Fort Scott’s Industrial Park, since 2012. The company manufactures, sells, and leases water trucks, fuel/lube trucks, and water towers, according to its website.
“We fell in love with Fort Scott, the community, the downtown,” Luanna said. “We are trying to give back.”
The building was built in 1889, with A. B. Payne as the owner. It was built for apartments and a printing shop, Luanna said. The name of the building was Shultz and Paine.
One interesting fact discovered in looking at the history of the building: “The building’s owner was friends with Mark Twain,” she said. Twain was a humorist, journalist, lecturer, and novelist who died in 1910.
The Nieces plan to make two apartments on the top floor, one for themselves and one for a rental.
The street-level floor will be renovated to make an old-fashioned “soda jerk fountain and ice cream shop” with candy and “simple foods like hot dogs”, she said.
The basement will be Al’s hangout, “Like in the movie ‘Speak Easy’, a gentleman’s bar,” she said. “It will be his mancave, probably called ‘Al’s’.”
“We hope to have renderings (of the future building plans) in about a month,” Al said. They met with the builder last week and hope to be open by next summer, he said.
Koen Construction is the builder, Al said.
What attracted the Nieces was that “this building is a stand-alone one,” she said. “And it has a lot next to it, land. About 6,000-10,000 square feet.”
The Nieces also own the building that houses the Brickstreet BBQ Restaurant, the River Room Event Center, and the Healthy Bourbon County Action Team office on North National.