Repair on the Square

Friday, December 14, 2012

By Clint Confehr

Senior Staff Writer

Lewisburg's public square has more activity than meets the eye, although there's plenty to see.

Highlights include:

* Creation of a new front door for Marshall County Courthouse officials, attorneys, plaintiffs and defendants;

* Renovation of First Presbyterian Church, where project manager Joe Berry Brandon says, "Contrary to popular belief the lift will not be a permanent structure."

* Renaming and reopening of what was '50s & Fiddles as Hammer's Diner, a moniker reflecting the owner's son's nickname;

* Near completion of what a design college student called the ghost building, but better known as Bob Phillips' hole. The former mayor is searching for a better name for the park; and,

* Delays for the eventual relocation of Chickee's from West Commerce Street to the west side of the square into what was Johnny's Ice Cream Parlor and Chinese Restaurant.

Jeffrey W. Taylor, general superintendent for Orion Building Corp. of Brentwood, has construction crews reopening what was the west door of the courthouse; demolishing concrete steps; and pouring concrete for the foundation of what's to be a flat bridge to a new main entrance that's secure and handicap accessible. The project is also in conjunction with efforts to stop leaks into the ground floor courtroom.

Brandon faced leaks at the church where bricks had to be repointed because the Queen Anne drain system gutters were covered. The church, built in 1903, has extensive work to protect its ascension window so the stained glass art will be better displayed in time for the congregation's Christmas Eve service.

"It's been a massive renovation," church member Bob Phillips said. "It didn't look like it would be all that expensive until we got into it."

On the south side of the square, Bob and Faris Phillips' gift to the community is a new park that's nearly completed.

"Faris and I have ordered the park benches," he said.

Sod is to be laid and then plaques will be placed.

Tim Atkisson, pastor of New Life Family Tabernacle on Fox Lane, opened Hammer's Diner on Nov. 13. His son, Anthony "Hammer" Atkisson, 18, is a Columbia State Community College student.

The pastor's parents, Melvin and Peggy Atkisson, had a restaurant and he worked there until he was 15 when they closed. He's always wanted a restaurant of his own.

The building on the east side of Marshall County Community Theatre had been run by another minister who called the restaurant Project 50s.

Now, it's home of the 25-cent cup of coffee, delivery around the square and a new operating business.

Chickee's is starting longer hours and different meals as planned in new quarters facing the courthouse's new main door.

Proprietor Jennifer Crow planned a Thanksgiving opening but reports, "There's been a major delay. Construction hasn't been worked on for over a week. We're in negotiations on some major repairs."

It's unclear when Chickee's will move. Crow says, "It looks like it will be at least 6-8 weeks."

In the meantime, they are re-opening the old location Monday, Dec. 17.