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Building demolition clears way for new FUMC center

A long-standing structure in downtown Brookhaven started comingdown this week to make way for a new activity center for FirstUnited Methodist Church.

Construction crews began tearing down the exterior of theHarrigill Building Monday, said Alex Shoemake with Paul Jackson andSons Construction Company. Interior work, including tearing downwalls, was completed in the past two weeks.

Shoemake said he expected the building to be completelydemolished in another week or two. Crews with Oddee Smith and SonsConstruction Company, which is in charge of the demolition and sitepreparatory work, would then begin clearing the site.

Paul Jackson has the contract to build the new building.

Dr. Wayne Webster, minister of First United Methodist Church,said the new activity center will include a large “activity area”for recreation and fellowship during meals about half the size of abasketball court. The building will also host a commercial kitchen,youth classrooms and recreation areas and an elevator that willconnect to the building to the back of the sanctuary.

“This has been in the planning stages for several years,” hesaid. “The congregation has been involved in this for quite awhile. It’s going to be a very serviceable addition to thechurch.”

Once the site is cleared, construction time on the $1.59 millionbuilding is estimated at 300 days, Webster said.

The Harrigill Building has been used by the congregation forchildren and youth activities, yard sales, fellowships and Biblestudies, he said. It also was home to the Contemporary Worshipprogram held early Sunday mornings.

Originally the home of T.H. Perkins Furniture Company, thebuilding was renamed the Gertrude Harrigill Building when thechurch took possession a decade ago.

The Perkins family founded the store in 1886. At that time, thestore was located in a rented building around the corner, said BillPerkins Sr.

The building was erected in 1937 on a vacant lot by Thomas H.Perkins Jr., who bought the property from the S.E. Morton family,Perkins said.

T.H. Perkins Furniture Company remained in the building until1996 when they consolidated their operations to a BrookwayBoulevard location.

Bill Perkins said he was sorry to see the old building torndown.