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By Carmen Ensinger
The Rastello Room, in Hardin, held a grand opening on Saturday, Sept. 25, to show what a lot of hard work, a lot of love, and some cold hard cash can do to transform a piece of history.
What is the Rastello Room? Well, it is an event room, meeting room, wedding venue, just about anything one might need an extra space for.
Cindy Borrowman Kamp, co-owner of PCRE Real Estate and Auction, purchased the building last October with the intention of remodeling it for office space.
“I have been renting a little room as office space next to the laundromat over there, but I have five new agents and we kind of ran out of room,” Kamp said. “So, we were trying to figure out where we could go and then this place came up for sale and we bought it.”
The idea, at first, was just to have office space for herself and her agents, but, with all the added space, the idea of an auction company came on the horizon.
“We have an auction company at our other office in Pittsfield and so we wanted to have a place here in Calhoun where we could have land auctions and do other types of auctions,” she said. “We own the Red Barn in Pittsfield but we wanted a location here if we did stuff so that was my original thought and then the more we got into it the more I thought, you know, when I’m not using it for an auction, we could probably use it for something else so the idea of the Rastello Room came about and renting it out for events.”
One might ask where the name Rastello came from. Well, there is a brick at the top of the building with the name Rastello on it. Adolph (Rudolpho) Rastello owned the building in the 1930’s and had a bar and restaurant there for many years. He obtained a bank loan and extended the building 20 foot in the back and built on the top floor where he and his family lived, which is when he installed the brick with his name on it, which still exists today.
Kamp, who was interested in the history of the building, found out that Rastello still had relatives living in the area.
“I found out that his granddaughter was Sue Ellen Houseman of Carrollton,” Kamp said. “So, I called her and asked her if she would be okay if I were to call it the ‘Rastello Room’ and she was thrilled with the idea.”
Houseman attended the open house and said she couldn’t be more honored to have the room named after her grandfather.
“I was just thrilled to death when she called and started asking me about my grandparents and the business that they ran in this building,” Houseman said. “They came to Hardin in 1930 and opened Rastello’s but my grandfather’s wife died of a blood clot in 1937 at the age of only 44 so he sent for his mother to take care of my mom (Betty Rastello Carrico) and her sister.”
Houseman said that her grandfather had the dream of many young immigrants back in those days – that a better life could be had in America.
Born in 1888, at the age of 18, a young Rudolpho Guiseppe Rastello had saved up enough money to book passage on a boat headed for America. He landed at Ellis Island in 1908 unable to speak a single word of English. This would prove to be his downfall, or perhaps, his saving grace, depending on how you look at it.
“When he got to America, the first thing they asked him was his name. He said Rudolpho. They said there is no one here with that name so from now you will be called Adolph,” Houseman said. “He wanted to be in America so bad that he changed his name and for the rest of his life he went by Adolph.”
His original intention was to go to Granville, Ohio where there were coal mines and work in the mines, but instead, he was sent to Greenville, Ill. where there were no mines. There was also no one there who spoke Italian, so he was sent to Benld where there was a boarding house ran by Italians.
He met up with some locals at a bar who were headed to a gold mine in Leads, South Dakota and asked if he could go along. In the meantime, he took a room at a boarding house ran by John and Catherine Laurenti. This is where he met his wife, Mary Josephine Laurenti.
In 1930, they made their way to Hardin, purchased the building and started Rastello’s Tavern. The family lived above the tavern and Houseman remembers many a story told by her mother, Betty, about working there as a child.
“I remember my mom telling me stories about having to stand on milk crates to reach the sink to do the dishes because she was so small,” she said. “They would serve meals on Sunday of fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy and all the trimmings for like 50 cents and they worked their tails off, but that is how they made it here. They worked and they worked hard.”
The Kamps have worked hard as well getting the building into the shape it is now. They have spent the better part of a year getting it into the showplace it is now. A video was playing on the big screen television on the wall which showed the building before they started the remodel.
“We pretty much had to gut the building and start over,” Kamp said. “I can’t even begin to tell you how many dumpsters we filled taking out all the material we removed from the inside and there is still more upstairs to get rid of.”
The interior of the building is something to behold. It is rustic in nature, using a combination of old barn wood and tin.
“We obtained the barn wood and tin from an old Amish barn from up around Martinsburg,” Kamp said. “We really like the way it turned out.”
Others seem to like it as well as Kamp said the venue is booked over the weekends until the end of the year.
“We have something in here every weekend for the rest of this year, whether it is a bridal shower, birthday party or something else,” she said. “We can also rent it out during the week if someone wants to, but the weekend is the main time people want to schedule events.”
There is one thing that will take place every Wednesday night from 4 to 8 p.m. at the Rastello Room – Vendor Event.
“Beginning Oct. 6 and running through Dec. 15, every Wednesday night, we will have around nine vendors set up in here selling their items. On Oct. 6, we have Big John’s Bar who will be doing a margarita special, Blue Ridge Farms, Hardin Package Liquor and All About You Boutique in Carrollton will be coming up as well. The gas station will be doing a drawing as well and Spring Hollow Hemp, a Calhoun based company, will be here selling CBD as well.”
Prom will be held there in April and Kamp said they will be hosting a homecoming dinner for some of the kids there as well.
“Some of us moms got together and decided we would cook something and have a nice dinner here because most of our kids are freshmen and can’t drive yet,” she said. “They like to get all dressed up and go to a restaurant, but we have to get out and drive them, so we thought we could just have the meal here.”