Renovations work uncovers more history

Published 5:00 am Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Ongoing renovation at the corner of Whitworth Avenue andCherokee Street has uncovered some interesting pieces of Brookhavenhistory.

During renovations this week, some historic columns wereunveiled when a layer of brick was taken down. Developer HalSamuels said the ornate columns are cast-iron, and date back as faras the 1800s. The building was built in 1867.

“It appears that those columns were the original ones on thebuilding, and we’re going back the original look,” he said. “We’reputting a new front on there to make it exactly the way it was inthe late 1800s to the early 1900s.”

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Samuels said part of redoing an old building like the StormBuilding is that historic pieces end up surfacing in the process,like one piece from a store that was in Brookhaven in 1867.

“They found a board in there that said Louis Conn and Sons,stamped on the board. When you have an old building like that,behind every board is a story,” he said.

The Storm Building actually once belonged to the Conn family,Samuels said, before his father bought the building from them.

And now the work to restore the building to its old-time gloryis under way, accented by the ornamental columns, which Samuelssaid will be restored rather than replaced.

“We knew they were there, but we could see just the front,” hesaid. “They’re going to be restored. Those cast-iron columns, youdon’t see those too much.”

The building has been in the renovation process for about twoyears now, because no shortcuts in restoring the building to itsoriginal strength are being taken, Samuels said. A structuralengineer was even brought in from Mobile, Ala., last year to makecertain the building was sound in case of another major naturalevent on the scale of Hurricane Katrina.

The Samuels family has also said in the past that they want tomake sure that the building is a positive part of the downtown area- not only because of their love for Brookhaven, but because of itspositioning right next to the “Homeseekers Paradise” sign.

Samuels said he hopes the construction on the front and exteriorof the building will be complete in the next two to threemonths.