Historic preservation, restoration mean more vital downtowns
When Micki McDaniel and her husband, Tim, peered in the windows at 213 West Main Street, they saw much more than a dusty space that had been vacant for years. They saw a future in the heart of downtown Danville.
Inspired by the generous space, high ceilings, original maple and oak floors and excellent location, they decided to repurpose the early-1900s building for use as her law office and his McDaniel Wealth Management headquarters.
213 West Main Street
An ambitious “labor of love,” the restoration project required new walls, plumbing, office design and more, before the 22-foot-wide, 5,000-square-foor space could be used for their businesses. But in September 2015, the building was ready.
“We put a lot of time and love into this project, but it was worth it,” Micki McDaniel says. “There is so much going on downtown, and we’re looking forward to being on Main Street and being part of everything.”
Third Street Methodist Church
Bernie Hunstad knows all about labors of love, as he painstakingly has been restoring the 1892 Third Street Methodist Church in downtown Danville. The latest iteration of a Methodist church that has been in Danville since the late 18th century, the building had been vacant since its congregation moved to a new building in 2007.
The old church was an important Danville landmark, and also held special appeal for Hunstad, an ardent preservationist and former mayor of the city, who was married there.
In 2014, Hunstad bought the empty church and set about restoring it for use as a house of worship, repairing plumbing, fixing major leaks, rebuilding walls, reproducing the original altar rail, replacing the heat and air conditioning, insulating, and reroofing. Very soon, the church was having services for its 35-40-member congregation and Danville was enjoying another rescued historic building.
“It is important to make sure these downtown properties are reutilized and repurposed,” Hunstad says. “The thing that attracts people to downtown is not the new buildings – it’s the old buildings. If they’re maintained, and there are activities there for people, then your towns survive; if not, they will decline.”
Maintaining an historic building can be a big task, as the folks at the Jacobs Hall Museum at the Kentucky School for the Deaf can attest. The striking Italianate building with its distinctive cupola has been one of Danville’s best-known buildings since it was built in 1857. Once the school’s girl’s dormitory, Jacobs Hall today is a fascinating museum where the public can discover the school’s rich history and understand the lives of its many students.
Currently, the 38,000-square-foot building is being repainted inside, freshening a renovation that took place sometime in the 1960s or ‘70s, and having its windows repaired. Keeping the building in top shape is a priority for the alumni, current staff and students and volunteers from the community.
“Part of the culture of Danville is having the deaf school,” says JoAnn Hamm, a volunteer with (and former grant writer for) the school. “In the past it was a huge source of income to the county. There were a lot of people who worked here, and a lot of students who studied here. Some people who had deaf children moved here so they didn’t have to be so far away from the school. It’s had a big impact on the community for many years.”
Perryville, too, is keeping its history fresh. Walking tours of downtown Perryville include 35 historic homes and buildings, and the stout of heart can also explore the spookier aspects of history in paranormal tours of the historic Perryville Civil War Battlefield.