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Linda Smith doesn't dwell on the fact that she lives in a historic home in St. Louis. Built in the late 1870s, the building houses the Carondelet Bakery, which is believed to be the oldest bakery in the city. But, says Smith, "I appreciate the history and acknowledge it and am proud of [it], but I just have always considered it my home more than anything else."
Now Smith and her husband, who gained fame as Bob the Baker in a 2013 Emmy-winning short film of the same name, are heading into retirement and selling their longtime home plus the business for $398,700.
The price includes not only the historic bakery but also their two-floor, 11-room living space with four bedrooms and two and half baths.
To sweeten the deal, the bakery's recipes are also for sale. "We have barrels and barrels full" of recipes, Smith says. All can be had for $10,000.
Bob Smith has been working in the bakery since he was 12 and became the owner at 20. After the couple married in 1976, Linda worked in the shop as well. In recent years they had cut back store hours to only three days a week, but the bakery remained wildly popular, especially after the local PBS station showed Bob the Baker, Smith says. Last year, they decided it was time to retire.
In November, they closed their store and had planned to sell it to someone who wanted to turn it into a business incubator for food service providers. Smith obtained the necessary licenses and upgraded the facility, but the deal fell through. Now, Smith has been operating it as an incubator herself.
Tenants pay $15 an hour to use the space, plus an additional $10 an hour to use the massive oven. A new owner could continue operating the incubator or turn the facility back into a bakery, Smith notes. Although the bakery is closed, "people are still coming by and still calling," asking for such favorites as the gooey butter cake and the award-winning fudge brownies, she notes proudly.
The 2,400-square-foot home in the two floors above the bakery has been modernized many times over the nearly 40 years the Smiths have lived there. The home features original stained-glass windows in the living room, a cedar deck, a side yard, and a two-car garage plus an adjoining lot.
The bakery sits in the southernmost neighborhood of St. Louis. Now called The Patch, the area was originally part of the Mississippi River town of Carondelet, which was not incorporated into St. Louis until 1870. "This place is teeming with soul, diversity of everything, nice people, enormous potential," according to a local blogger.
Smith, who plans to stay in the area to be near her children and grandchildren, is eager to help a new owner learn the baking business. She says it "would be nice to be somewhat involved in the transition, to show them how things were made." In a world of constantly changing fads, it would be comforting to see this bakery that's been around for 140 years or so continue to sell its brownies and butter cake.