CRESTVIEW — With the flap of a vinyl strip, a gentle shower of plaster dust and a clatter of dislodged wooden furring strips, a downtown architectural gem long hidden behind a plastic façade was once more unveiled.
The single-story commercial building on the 200 block of Main Street, now the site of Brad Stewart's law practice, is receiving a complete restoration. A $9,000 Community Redevelopment Agency façade improvement grant administered by the Main Street Crestview Association is partially funding restoration of the building's exterior, which is estimated to cost $18,000.
"My family is one of the pioneering families in the area," Stewart said. "We're excited about tackling this project and what the final result will be."
Most interior renovation of the 1928 building, which appears on the National Register of Historic Places, is completed, Stewart said. The high ceiling is hand-planed tongue-and-groove pine. A period light fixture hangs in the lobby’s reception area. The floor is newly milled heart pine.
"We try to keep everything era-specific as best we could," Stewart said.
Some of the interior walls are reclaimed period brick. The conference room’s wooden door features carved wood ornamentation and is set with a large, stained glass window. Janet Hurst, a member of the local Gilliland family, gave Stewart the door, which used to hang in the family's home.
As workers from Brad Stewart's brother Jeremy Stewart's general contracting firm pulled down vinyl siding strips from the Main Street façade, thick stucco, painted deep maroon, was revealed.
On the north side of the building's front, an unexpected treat surfaced: a long closed up door decorated with a 1960s butterfly motif had been preserved behind the vinyl.
"That was a real hidden gem," Brad Stewart said. "It was exciting to expose that door and see that picture there."
The doorway originally opened onto a long hallway, at the end of which was a dentist's office, he said. Main Street passersby had not seen the door in more than 40 years.
Stewart hopes to remove the stucco on the front façade and restore the original brick.
"The plaster they used back then was so incredibly thick it may be damaging to try to remove it," he said. A patch of the almost inch-thick stucco remains on one of the interior walls to show visitors how thick it is.
Stewart is considering commissioning a mural for the north-side wall, which faces an alley.
As workers Tommy Rogers and Ronald Hilliard removed the vinyl siding, Stewart watched as old stucco and the location of old commercial signs were revealed.
"There are certainly easier ways to go about renovating an old building, and cheaper," Stewart said. "But we're trying as much as we can to make it authentic."
Contact News Bulletin Staff Writer Brian Hughes at 850-682-6524 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @cnbBrian.