Many readers may know that my husband Frank and I own the Greeneville Theatre Guild building. After five years of ownership, the metal is finally off of the front of the building at 250 W. Depot Street. It’s been an interesting experience.
We had decided that work on the exterior portion of the building would wait until after the interior work was completed. That would give us time to save and prepare. There was an argument to be made for completing them both at the same time so there wouldn’t be construction mess to deal with after the space opened, but waiting still seemed prudent.
Then the façade grant was approved for Greeneville. We couldn’t pass up an opportunity like that, so we hurriedly gathered estimates and submitted an application. We also included replacement of the windows on the third floor in the scope of work because the wood had deteriorated to the point that the glass panes were falling out.
Our hopes for an earlier removal were dashed when we weren’t approved for the grant, but we were happy for those who were. It’s exciting to see improvement on any buildings, and a high tide tends to float more boats.
However, the window situation grew desperate as more panes were lost during some of the wind storms we have here occasionally. We were to the point of needing to replace them even without any grant funds when the second round of the Community Development Block Grants was awarded to Greeneville in late 2018.
We updated our application and applied again in April 2019 and were fortunate enough to be approved for a portion of the grant. Red tape and restrictions on other grantees had to be met before we could proceed, though. Then there was the bid process, and more paperwork.
Then there was prep work, because the original windows on the front of the building had been removed when the metal façade was originally added. Replacement windows had to be ordered and framework had to be added. Closure of at least one lane of the road had to be approved, and equipment had to be rented.
Finally, the day I’ve been waiting for since we first signed the papers to acquire the building arrived! I’m sure the contractors were amused when I arrived and stood on the sidewalk across the street, holding my breath as each piece of metal was removed and exposed what had been covered almost 50 years ago.
We have photos of the old Super Dollar Market when it was located there, so we knew what the front of the building should look like, if it wasn’t altered when the metal was added. We didn’t know exactly how the steel support beams had been attached, so there was a chance the brick had been damaged, but there was no way to know to what extent until we could see it. To our surprise and delight, the metal application doesn’t appear to have significantly damaged the brick.
We knew the glass block windows were still there, because they could be seen on the inside of the building. What couldn’t be seen was the tile that borders the glass block. On the old black and white photos, it just looks like a paint border, so we were surprised to find it attached to the building. Sadly, some of it was damaged and removed to add the steel, so I’m not sure it can be saved. There’s also the risk of it falling off on its own, so we have that to consider as well.
The positive comments from members of the community have added to the delight and excitement of exposing the brick. I think it gives us all a glimpse of what’s possible and what has begun to happen on Depot Street and in our downtown – a fresh face for the future.