It was 30 some years ago.
Larry Fields was back in Pittsburg for the holidays.
He and his wife Sooki were driving down 4th Street.
“I pointed over at that brick building that was in disrepair and told Sooki that I’m going to buy it someday,” Larry said. “I just felt like it needed to be taken care of.”
That building was the former Frisco Freight Depot at 4th and Elm. A career railroad man, Fields spent much of his adult life in hundreds of depots around the world. This particular one in Pittsburg always occupied a special place in his heart.
Regret is a one way street.
“It’s a beautiful building, and it has such a rich history,” he said. “I didn’t want to see it torn down or just sit there and waste away. It took a little work to finally purchase it, but I was determined to make it happen.”
Pittsburg today knows the building as the Frisco Event Center, a beautifully-restored venue for weddings, family reunions, concerts, and more. The depot’s story, which began in 1876, lives on in the laughter and tears and memories made.
“I just love seeing people inside there having a good time, enjoying the space,” Fields said. “Pittsburg needed a venue like this, and it meant a lot to Sooki and me to fix up the old depot and give it new life.”
Due in large part to the Fields’ hard work and determination, the Frisco now sits firmly on the National Register of Historic Places.
“I enjoy working on things.”
“I didn’t really know if we could get it on there, but I wanted to try,” Fields said. “I thought the building deserved to be on there, but it’s not an easy thing to get done. Our history is our history, and these buildings tell that story.
“I am not a rabid historian that thinks every old building can or should be saved,” he said. “Sometimes tearing it down is the right or only choice. But if there is a chance to preserve these buildings and bring them back to life, we should try. Regret is a one-way street. Once you tear them down, there’s no going back.”
Sooki probably saw it coming.
Shortly after completing work on the Frisco, Fields started thinking about taking on another project. With so many historic, beautiful buildings in Pittsburg, he felt a calling to restore at least one more.
“I guess it becomes a little bit like an addiction,” he said. “It’s really a lot of fun to get your hands on these buildings. Plus, I enjoy working on things.”
In 2019, Fields purchased and began renovating what’s commonly known as the Pittcraft building on Locust Street. Built in 1879, the building’s original use was production of equipment and goods to be used by miners.
Today, it’s The Family Fun Depot, a place where families and children can gather to participate in a variety of games and activities. Fields said such a venue was needed in Pittsburg.
“We have plenty of bars and restaurants,” he said. “Kids have sports. We have a bowling alley. We have dance clubs. What we didn’t have, however, was a place indoors where families can come and just play together. We needed a place for kids to come and just be kids.”
The Fun Depot features a variety of activities, including bounce houses, ball pits, arcade games, trampoline, pop-a-shot basketball, and more.
“It will change over time,” Fields said. “We’ll keep bringing new things in, give families new activities and challenges. We have a great manager named Darcie Shultz, and she’s really doing a wonderful job. We’re excited for what this place is becoming.”