Petaluma lost a treasure the night of June 24, 2006, when its beloved hardware store, Tomasini's Rex Hardware, was destroyed by fire. Rex stood at the corner of Fourth and B Streets, directly across from Petaluma's famed 1904 Carnegie Library, at the very heart of historic downtown Petaluma. The hardware store was about to celebrate its centennial, having served the Petaluma community since 1907.
There were actually several buildings that were combined to create the historic Rex building, most of which dated back to the 1850s. Numerous businesses occupied the buildings during the past 150 years, including a blacksmith shop and a tavern. The building was renowned for its early-20th century ambiance, creaky plank floors, and amazing inventory that catered particularly to the owners of the hundreds of Victorian-era homes that are scattered throughout west Petaluma. Rex was a store from another era, where customer service was the priority, with employees standing watch to greet customers and guide them through the maze of rooms to find just about anything.
The loss of Rex Hardware is a tragedy of gargantuan proportions for the tight-knit Petaluma community, where many people have shopped at Rex for half a century or more.
Owner Jeff Tomasini, whose family has owned the hardware store since the late 1950s, has vowed to rebuild Rex Hardware, and for that the legions of customers couldn't be happier.
.Update Aug. 25, 2007
It only took 15 months from start to finish, and we are happy to report that Tomasini's Rex Hardware reopened on Aug. 25, 2007, much to the delight of the 2,500 celebrants who stopped by for the grand reopening. Congratulations to Jeff and Gro for creating such a fantastic building that is reminiscent of the original 1850s Rex building in many ways. Here's a photo taken right after the opening, for a look at the complete progress of the reconstruction, click here.
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