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By Connor Ashlock
Cyndi Kamp, the Calhoun Managing Broker and co-owner of Pike County Real Estate (PCRE), shares that renovations to Hardin’s new Rastello Room on Main Street are nearing completion and already, folks are taking advantage of Calhoun’s new event center.
“Last September, I added five more agents to the office and I was running out of space, so I bought this building,” Kamp said. “But it was so big that when we got in here, I realized we didn’t need the whole space for the real estate office.”
Kamp shares that she’s always been a lover of antiques and old things, so the idea of owning a piece of Hardin history carried quite a bit of weight with her, but interestingly enough, the idea of utilizing part of the building as an event center was an afterthought.
“The whole purpose of having the building was so PCRE had a place in Calhoun County to host land auctions,” Kamp said.
Kamp further explained that at PCRE’s Pittsfield office, they have an actual auction house, but in Calhoun County, they utilized a truck with a topper that they drove to the auction site.
Now, that issue for PCRE is resolved, but even better, the unexpected opportunity has allowed Kamp to offer an additional amenity to the Calhoun community.
The Rastello Room takes its name from a family who owned the building many years ago. In fact, if you look at the top of the building, you’ll still see the name on the building.
The Rastello family once resided in Calhoun County, but was one of those families that had only daughters, so the bloodline is carried on through different surnames in the region now.
Kamp reached out to a granddaughter of the patriarch to learn more about the building’s history, as well as review old newspaper articles and land records.
Kamp’s research uncovered quite an extensive history concerning the building going all the way back to 1909, which was the year on the oldest deed she has come across.
In its lifetime, it served as the Hardin Department Store, owned by the Lorsbach family, a grocery store, the venue formerly occupied by the Apple Blossom Theatre, a deli, restaurant and even a bar.
The Rastellos came into the picture when Mary Rastello purchased the building during the Great Depression.
Prior to 1935, the current building was actually two separate buildings, which explains why Mary Rastello purchased it in two parcels.
“She bought one building in 1931 and the other in 1935 and then willed it to her son, Adolphe, in 1938,” Kamp said.
The second parcel that Mary purchased is the event center side, with the Calhoun PCRE office inhabiting the 1931 parcel.
A major renovation project began in 1935 after Mary purchased the second parcel, which involved combining the two buildings, constructing the second story and extending the length of the building by adding 20 feet onto the back end.
Being an appreciator of the past, Kamp is proud of the 2021 renovation, in which she has preserved the original floor with a new stain, as well as the original rafter, which are so old that they still have the bark on them.
If you’re able to make a stop into the building, or if you attend an event there, be sure to notice the barn wood siding on the wall.
“The interior wood siding is original barn wood from Martinsburg and the tin is from a barn roof,” Kamp said.
So, not only is she keeping a landmark building standing in good shape, but she’s added some charm to it that gives it a new look while hinting at rural roots.
The building will also be home to more than just the Rastello Room and PCRE, as Ashley Droege, a senior loan consultant with New American Funding, will have an office in the building as well.
Droege began her work with the mortgage company in May 2016, which allowed her to work from home for a good majority of the time, with occasional visits to Edwardsville and the company office in Glen Carbon.
In her time with New American Funding, she has entirely served Calhoun County and has worked extensively with PCRE, so it made sense for her to move in and work more closely with Kamp and her colleagues.
“I’ve established a good business relationship with PCRE and we feel like it’s going to be a great thing for the people of Calhoun to have another outlet for mortgages at their fingertips,” Droege said.
Droege’s office is located near the kitchenette that is available for use during events.
The group inhabiting the Rastello building have also been working to make sure that most of their business stays in the county, with Adam Bailey of Hamburg having done a majority of the renovation work on the building.
Kamp hopes to host an actual grand opening of the building soon, but it’s a matter of balancing that with her schedule and the bookings that are already coming in for the Rastello Room.
Just this past weekend, a birthday party was hosted at the venue, and a rehearsal dinner will be coming up next weekend.
Kamp reports that she will keep folks updated on the grand opening though the Rastello Room Facebook page.