pe-kaysbrosbuilding

The Kays Brothers building is an important site in the downtown, says historian Catherine Hennessey. ((CBC))

A historic building in downtown Charlottetown is being emptied so it can be transformed into something new, once again.

The Charlottetown Area Development Corporation has purchased the Kays Brothers building on Queen Street.

Kays Brothers has been operating as a wholesale company out of the building for 45 years, and it was still being operated in the old style w

hen it shut down last week. There were no computers for inventory. The Kays kept track of the thousands of products in their heads.

"We knew exactly where everything was. If you wanted a certain product, we'd know exactly where to go," Mark Kays told CBC News Friday.

But competition was growing increasingly tougher.

'It's a very big building and an important one on Queen Street.' — Historian Catherine Hennessey

"Over the years it got more difficult, obviously, especially when the bridge opened up. It eased access to P.E.I. and people actually left P.E.I. to buy products," said Kays.

The four-storey building was constructed by a former premier in 1872 and has been home to four Island newspapers, a tobacco manufacturer and even an egg company.

Historian Catherine Hennessey said it also survived a number of fires over the years.

"It was a very important building: large, you know, 80 by 80 feet. So it's a very big building and an important one on Queen Street," said Hennessey.

The Charlottetown Area Development Corporation bought the building for $750,000 and is expected to put out a call for proposals for it soon.