Pedersen’s Furniture will close its doors a year from now, marking the end of a downtown Santa Rosa business that sprang to life in the 19th century and over the decades reinvented itself into a retailer of high-end furnishings and interior design services.

The company, which four generations of family members have operated over the past 126 years, will cease business in March 2019, brothers and co-owners Ken and Paul Pedersen confirmed Monday.

The brothers decided to close Pedersen’s partly because they are nearing retirement, said Paul Pedersen, who began his career at the Fifth Street establishment in 1976. His brother had started there about five years earlier.

“Our ages as owners, as well as the ages and desires of many of our key managers and staff, have brought us to the decision to close the business,” the brothers wrote in a March 23 letter to customers, suppliers and others. “We are choosing to go out on our terms and our timing, rather than wait for a death, health event or financial stress to force a closing.”

The news was met Monday with both understanding and a bit of sadness by those with longtime ties to the city core.

“I don’t remember downtown without Pedersen’s,” said John Sawyer, a Santa Rosa councilman and former downtown business owner.

Sawyer, 63, the former owner of Sawyer’s newsstand, recalled going to Pedersen’s as a boy with his mother. The store was known for its longtime employees, and his family regularly worked with the same salesperson over the years.

Pedersen’s belongs to a trio of remaining downtown businesses that have passed the century mark. The others are Fourth Street retailers Corrick’s stationery and gifts, which began in 1915, and E.R. Sawyer Jewelers, which dates from 1879.

During Pedersen’s existence the downtown not only experienced the devastating 1906 earthquake but also an era of urban redevelopment a half-century ago, the redesign of Fourth Street in the 1980s and the reunification of Old Courthouse Square a year ago.

The Pedersen brothers were credited as longtime leaders among downtown retailers.

“They’ve been a major player in helping form the downtown,” said Corrick’s owner Keven Brown.

Brown recalled that when he returned to Santa Rosa to run his family’s business in 1992, Ken Pedersen was president of the Santa Rosa Downtown Association.

Brown said Pedersen proved generous in his time helping a young retailer learn the ropes of civic engagement and the Pedersen brothers remained supportive of downtown improvement throughout the years.

“We will sorely miss them,” Brown said. “We wish them well in retirement because I can understand they want to enjoy those years.”

The store’s 50,000- square-foot showroom and warehouse on Fifth Street was put up for sale a year ago by its four owners, the Pedersen brothers and two other family members.

At that time the brothers said they would consider if necessary relocating the store. However, by the time the building’s sale closed on Oct. 6, they had decided they would simply close the store.

“We’d made that decision before the fires happened,” Paul Pedersen said, referring to the devastating wildfires that ignited two days later on Oct. 8. The fires eventually claimed 24 lives and burned more than 5,200 homes in Sonoma County.

The sales agreement includes a lease-back option that will allow the business to remain at the Fifth Street location until March 2019.

Over the decades Pedersen’s has sold furniture, undertaker supplies, televisions and appliances. But in recent years it featured premium American-made furnishings, with about half its sales from one designer, Stickley of Manlius, N.Y.

The store has about 20 employees, including salespeople and interior designers.

The company remains profitable and debt-free, Paul Pedersen said. Asked if the brothers had considered selling rather than closing the business, he replied without elaboration, “We just chose not to sell it.”

The company, he said, sent out its letter to customers now to avoid speculation about Pedersen’s future.

“We just felt it was important to be the ones sharing the news with them,” Paul Pedersen said.

Pedersen’s will continue to take custom orders through Sept. 30 and afterward will order stock and sell from inventory.

Peter Rumble, CEO of the Santa Rosa Metro Chamber of Commerce, said he received word Monday about the upcoming closure. “It’s certainly not good news,” he said, but he wished the family well.

“Pedersen’s is a mainstay for downtown Santa Rosa,” Rumble said. The name is “kind of synonymous with downtown.”

As part of the 150th anniversary of Santa Rosa’s incorporation, city officials have reached out to nearly a dozen businesses that have existed for at least 50 years, dating back to the 100th anniversary, Sawyer said.

He called those businesses, including Pedersen’s, a key part of “the tapestry of retail in Santa Rosa.”

“There’s this expectation that they’ll always be around,” he said. “And we know that is just not the case.”

You can reach Staff Writer Robert Digitale at 707-521-5285 or robert.digitale@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @rdigit.