As some of you may have seen, the renovations on our home have been pretty stagnant for the last year. Thankfully, we didn’t run out of money nor did my husband die. We got sidetracked. Last year we purchased an old building right on Hutchinson Square; 131 South Main Street between Eva’s On Main and James F Dean Community Theatre. Some of you may remember when this building was Helen’s Beauty Parlor. Helen Hiott Knight bought the building in 1962 and from the stories I’ve heard, there was a lot of community that happened here. Just this past weekend a man told me his mother came here every week to have her hair set. By the time we bought it, she had passed away and the building was being sold by her niece, Linda Larson. The age of the building and the fact that Helen had owned it for 56 years made me feel like I was becoming the steward of a piece of history in Summerville. We knew we wanted to keep the integrity and feel of the original building but it needed a lot of work. Hence, the pause on our house. Steven, my husband, worked tirelessly over the next year, in addition to his full time job, to transform it into what it is today.
As with any renovation, there will be unexpected surprises. One thing we were so looking forward to was removing the sheetrock and exposing the brick walls. Right after closing, we excitedly took a hammer to the sheetrock. My heart immediately sank when what we found was not brick at all, but hard stucco. My husband, being the realistic man that he is, informed me we were not going to have brick walls. Me, being the optimistic one, went straight to YouTube and saw how “easy” it was to remove stucco with an air hammer. My husband is realistic but he is also patient with my crazy ideas. He and several others spent over two weeks with an air hammer removing enough stucco for us to have brick walls in the foyer and conference room. I love them!
The entire building is not brick. When it was added onto, the additions to the building were cinder block. Another unexpected surprise was a bad patch job that left holes in the brick large enough to put a fist through. We could literally see the side of Eva’s building, and we joked about having our own serving window.
We knew when we bought the building that water issues needed to be addressed. The back of the building is actually below ground level and water would seep in through the walls and flood the back half of the building. An interior trench was jackhammered out of the slab and a “weeping tile system” similar to a french drain was installed. Again, I’m thankful for my husbands knowledge, research and desire to fix things the right way.
Finally, it was time to start putting the place back together. For me this was the fun part to watch. Walls were built, the kitchen and bath were put in, floors went down and ceilings went up. Once we were close to completion inside, we ordered our signs for outside. Summerville Dream gave us a Dream Building Improvement Grant to help pay for the signs. The grants help commercial owners within the Downtown Historic District enhance and improve the appearance of buildings. It’s a great program and we’re extremely thankful to Summerville Dream and Michael Lisle.
I truly love our town and being a part of it. Every day I get to help people experience our town’s uniqueness and help make it home for them as well. I hope to continue the community service at 131 South Main that was started many years ago at Helen’s Beauty Parlor.
Click on the photos below for a better view of the whole process.