38 - 42 Commercial Street
42 - 44 Commercial Street is a B listed building. It borders to Church Road to the south, Sinclair's Steps to the north, the rear side faces the South Esplanade, and it was built in 1796 as a house for a Mr Clark.
The area around this house has changed a lot.
Before the Post Office was built in 1910, the house bordered on the north side to Sinclair's Beach, an open area beside the building that houses "H. Hay" on the pictures from the 1890's and 1906. This open area and the house is now where the Post Office is located.
The next major change came in September 1968, when the final construction work was undertaken to join the newly constructed Church Road to the south Esplanade.
On the Esplanade side of 42 - 44, there was a neighbouring building. Originally Clark's Lodberry occupied the site, and by 1860 it was in use a gothic style Roman Catholic Chapel, dedicated to St. Anne, seating approx 100 people. In 1870 the lodberry was replaced with a new building by John Walker from Bressay, which was intended to be a co-operative store, but this venture never materialised, and the building was sold on in 1877. The purchasers were a committee who had raised funds with the intent of providing accomodation for the large number of Royal Naval Reserve men who came to Lerwick each winter. Unfortunately this venture did not prove successful either, as the men did not find either the place or conditions to their liking, and it closed in 1879. However despite the short tenure of this enterprise, it was long enough to give the building the name by which it was thereafter popularly known, the "Seaman's Home". Part of the building was then used as a drill hall by the 1st Zetland Volunteer Corps in the latter days of their existence, and from 1897 parts of the building in conjunction with parts of 42 - 44 were used by the Shetland Literary and Scientific Society to provide a library and reading room, following their move from the Old Tolbooth, and before their move to the former Military Canteen immediately to the south of St Clement's Hall in Saint Olaf Street in 1948. Other parts of the building were used as private residences. The "Seaman's Home" building can be seen on the 1906 picture, and "Seaview Stores" on the south side, which can be seen on the two pictures below, left, were all demolished to make space for the completion of the new Church Road
The building itself looks much the same as it did 100 years ago, for a while during the latter part of the period it traded under the "Solotti" name, the shop front was plastered smooth with a engraved tile pattern and the whole shop and cafe frontage painted white, then latterly a very pale blue. This has now been removed to expose the original stonework and give the entire building one uniform appearance. The whole building was refurbished some years ago.
The cafe area is now occupied by Faerdie Maet, after being Solotti's Cafe for many years.
The Shetland Alcohol Support Services office has also premises in the building, with entrance from the Esplanade side.
- British Listed Buildings - decription of the building.