To get a sense that this building has some history, try to imagine it as it was in the 1920's. Large, street level display windows flanked a recessed doorway, above which extended a row of transom windows covered by the ever popular canvas awning. Wide shiplap siding, painted white, covered the building. Brackets lined the false front cornice and paired bay windows articulated the front facade. Built as a one story building for Henry Sorenson's Satisfactory Grocery in 1902, the Gambi Building has windows projected from the upper facade.
The building was remodeled in 1909 by Arcata master builder Nelson Johansen. The second story was added to provide six rooms for the Gambi family's living quarters above the Gambi Fruit Store, moved from its previous location on the north side of the Plaza. To make their downtown and upstairs residence just like home, Johansen provided the family with a clothes reel platform and a roof garden.
Following Guglielmo Gambi's retirement to his Willow Creek farm in 1925, the building had a string of occupants including the ABC Cash and Carry Grocery, a feed store, jeweler, the Ritz Cafe and Shorty's Cafe, where one could "see and hear the Lone Star Rangers, Good old "Mountain Music" in the late 1930's. The College Creamery opened in 1940, followed by the College Fountain Grill, Chilton's Cafe and the Dinner Bell Cafe.
Restoration of the Gambi Building with shiplap siding, decorative woodwork, and bay windows would enable this once handsome storefront to again contribute to the special qualities of Arcata's Plaza.