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Preserve the past & present

Jill Lufrano

Gary Cain’s career has taken him from cleaning hotel rooms to owning a gun shop to supplying props to movie studios. He also is a recognized firearms expert witness and testifies in federal and state cases.

Like many business owners lately, however, Cain and his wife were looking for a way to escape life in California. They didn’t expect to find it in Carson City.

Cain and Jennifer Verive visited the area on their way to a Minden resort and liked what they found in the capital city.

“It’s big enough to be a city but small enough to still have a community heart to it,” Cain said from Martinez, Calif.

Within five months, the couple, which is planning to start a family soon, expect to finish remodeling the historical Olcovich House on North Curry Street and open Westwall Militaria, a retail shop specializing in authentic military antiques. The shop will operate from the bottom floor of the house.

“I’ve always been interested in history and, unfortunately, far too much of it is being lost,” Cain said. “The whole idea is to keep that in the forefront.”

The name, Westwall, is a term the allies in World War II used to determine the western side of the German defense line. Cain will start with a $100,000 inventory of military items that will sell from $1 to $10,000.

Cain also plans to host a show in Carson in the future and will look for educational opportunities in the area, they said. They will also offer a comprehensive military history library with more than 3,500 books and publications and an extensive reference collection of museum-quality World War II uniforms and military vehicles.

“It is my goal to preserve the stories of the men and women who did the fighting, the backbreaking work and the suffering to make this country great,” Cain said. “A uniform is not just a piece of cloth, it represents a person’s life, and sometimes sacrifice in the defense of this great country.”

Built in 1876, Hyman Olcovich, a prominent Jewish citizen, offered his house as a site for bar mitzvahs, weddings, seders and other religious ceremonies. In the 1900s, James Woodbury, a superintendent for several mills working on the Carson River, purchased the house. Woodbury became an Ormsby County commissioner and a state senator.

“Such a house needs to be made available to the community once again. Not just as a pretty structure to walk by, but as a facility that is open to the public and active in the community,” Cain said in a letter to the Carson City Redevelopment Authority.

Cain’s wife, Verive, will also run her Internet business from the property. Verive, a Ph.D., is founder and CEO of White Rabbit Virtual Inc., a company that develops research-based training and performance management programs.

The couple is asking the city’s redevelopment authority to pay for $41,000 of a $205,400 improvement project that will include replacing the roof and crown molding, rebuild the front porch, build a new garage and remove and replace the chimney. A redevelopment incentives program allows owners to ask for a reimbursement of 20 percent of the total cost of the project.

The redevelopment citizen’s committee will consider endorsing the funding at its meeting Wednesday. Economic Development and Redevelopment Manager Joe McCarthy is recommending the project for funding.

“That’s a real good example of a mixed-use project,” McCarthy said.

Redevelopment officials have been holding town-hall meetings in the past month to discuss allowing projects like this, where residents live and work in walking distance, or mixing rhomces and businesses in the same building, in more of downtown.

The committee will once again open the discussion about downtown planning at its Wednesday meeting. The discussion will allow residents to hear comments from past meetings and take a first run at developing mixed use and parking standards for the district, McCarthy said.

“We’re still at the discussion stage,” McCarthy said. “Plenty of people have asked us to move slowly and wisely and not to make decisions that are detrimental. We are being very concerned and cautious and don’t want to do anything that would lessen the quality of life in the historic district.”