Historic Faber’s Cyclery Building Burns as Writer Predicted

Once known as the “mecca for vintage bike enthusiasts,” the historic Faber’s Cyclery building is no more. The 129-year-old building on South First Street was the site of a three-alarm fire Thursday night, leaving the structure with heavy damage and a slight lean to one side.

Firefighters say they believe no one was in the building at the time of the fire, but they were not immediately able to search the second floor Thursday night, according to the Mercury News. The fire reportedly started around 9:30pm and took about an get the flames under control.

For those unfamiliar with Faber’s, the building on the southern skirt of downtown has an interesting history. According to a 2008 Gary Singh column in Metro, “The place was a corner saloon in 1884 and has been a bicycle business since 1921.” Faber’s was consistently under threat of closing, but managed to keep its doors open until February, according to KGO-TV.

Singh’s column focused on the cycle shop hosting a series of philosophical discussions called “Sunday Talks.”

“It looks like a rundown shack from the road, but it’s actually a gearhead’s paradise on the inside,” he wrote. “Whether you’re looking to hotrod your ‘50s cruiser or just assemble a beater piece of junk to get you from dive bar A to dive bar B, Faber’s has always been the place.

But, in a prophetic conclusion to his column, Singh lamented that historic buildings like Faber’s will likely soon disappear, possibly with malicious intent.

“Sadly, everything in this town comes down to real estate, and the property upon which Faber’s sits is on the chopping block, meaning that it’s only a matter of time before some heartless inhuman monster swoops in, buys the property and flattens the place. Either that, or it will mysteriously burn down like other buildings that seem to prevent developers from having their way.” (Emphasis added)

Faber’s owner, Alexander La Riviere, reportedly moved out of the shop a couple weeks ago, according to his ex-wife. In 2008, La Riviere—a revered bicycle historian—told Singh that he wanted to see the building preserved. “My hope is to make it a neighborhood learning facility that would promote history and cycling in general—not just San Jose, but for everything,” he said.

Josh Koehn is a former managing editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley.

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