Deer forces restoration

Friday, April 24, 2009

A white tailed deer broke the display window of a store front at Lewisburg's public square on Monday morning, apparently prompting the building's owner to proceed with restoration work starting with interior excavation.

The demolition crew has been gutting the building at the corner of Commerce Street and First Avenue South this week where job foreman Les Hargrove of Belfast said he and his men got "no venison, just blood" from the wild animal that escaped.

Witnesses saw the deer galloping south past four law firms on or at First Avenue South. One witness speculated that the deer had tried to fight with its reflection in the glass of the corner building.

Les Hargrove Excavating was hired about two months ago, Hargrove said.

"He just hadn't given us the OK to clean it out," Hargrove said of Bruce McLay, a British Columbian who bought the building at 101 1st Ave. S. for $8,000 during an auction on Oct. 18.

Tuesday morning Hargrove's employees were tearing out panels, boards and other inside parts of the building that had been the Downey & Jones Jewelry Store and then, for perhaps a year, a pawn shop before it was left empty.

McLay emphasized in remarks Tuesday that very few decisions had been made on what will be done, although he did say there are some major concepts in mind and those were found to be consistent with what Hargrove said.

A brick facade is planned to be similar to the brick that's already above the building's awning which McLay said is stable.

There's a good possibility that there will be two large windows facing East Commerce Street.

"There'll be a proper commercial picture window," McLay said.

That one, or two windows will be where the words "Yes! We repair __ing and mfg" are painted on the side of the building.

As the suspended ceiling panels are removed, the stamped metal ceiling will be restored and brought to view by people who will eventually be patronizing a business at the corner.

One plan for the street level floor is a poured concrete surface. It might be poured on top of fill rock and dirt used to fill in what seems to have been a coal cellar with a furnace.

"If he does what he says, it'll be real nice," Hargrove said, adding that "there's been talk about making it a restaurant."

McLay said he thought it's a good location for a restaurant, but he again emphasized that it's too early to be sure what's to be put in the building.

The owner said he's spoken with City Codes Enforcement Officer Greg Lowe about what might be done, and has provided pictures of the quality of restoration McLay has accomplished in other towns.

Hargrove said the building needs a new roof, new wiring and plumbing.

McLay concluded that before he knows what decisions to make during restoration, the unusable parts in the building will have to be removed.

"We don't know until we get it all checked out," McLay said.