Its roof collapsed, its windows busted, 206 E. Randolph was seen by some as beyond saving, Main Street Enid director Kelly Tompkins said, just a little piece of town begging for a bulldozer.
“That’s never my take on buildings,” Tompkins said.
It wasn’t Dee Plummer’s take either. Past the rust and rot, he and his colleague, William Hann, saw good bones and a “beautiful” bowstring truss ceiling, Plummer said.
A blank slate
They bought the lot in September 2018, had it fixed up inside and out, and a few months later the pair of CPAs moved their business, Hann Plummer CPAs and Business Advisors, into the new address.
Though they aren’t the first owners, the building is in many ways their own, Plummer said.
“The interesting thing is it was pretty much a blank slate,” he said, as there were no interior walls to worry about and the space was mostly empty. “It being a blank slate gave us the chance to put the walls where we wanted, stain the wood the way we wanted, really put our footprint on it.”
What happens on the inside isn’t as much a concern to Tompkins as the work done to the outside of the building.
Main Street Enid’s facade renovation grant program was established in 2015, under Tompkins’ tenure as director, to help business owners freshen up their storefronts, making for a better-looking downtown while encouraging the preservation of Enid’s architectural history.
“I think once she (Tompkins) saw our commitment to the restoration, it was obvious that their program and our intention to fix up the building were aligned,” Plummer said. “We felt good about the opportunity to add to what’s already going on in the downtown area.”
Picking up the pace
While the grant program may be new, concentrated facade renovation efforts began with Main Street Enid when it first formed in 1994, Tompkins said.
Improvement proved contagious, she said, and as things starting looking better, people began betting more and more on Enid. More than $49 million has been invested downtown in private capital alone since 1994, Tompkins said.
Facade renovation hasn’t stopped but has slowed since the 1990s, she said. By making grant funding available, Main Street Enid intends to pick that old pace up again.
Since 2016, four grant requests have been met for a total of $1,750, and two more have been approved, which will bring the total funding distributed to $4,500.
Hann Plummer is one of the two recently approved, and will be reimbursed $2,500.
“We just consider this the beginning,” Tompkins said.
Connecting the past
At the completion of Main Street Enid’s last fundraising campaign in November, the organization raised $15,000 for grant funding, she said, with $5,000 from Edward Jones, $5,000 from Enid Regional Development Alliance and another $5,000 from Main Street Enid itself to match.
On March 25, the Main Street Enid board greenlit another, separate, competitive grant worth up to $10,000, an effort to incentivize more larger projects, she said.
“There’s a handful of projects left downtown, so we sure hope we can help make those happen,” she said.
It’s important not to underestimate the value of curb appeal, Tompkins said, adding it boosts pride in a community, raises property values and encourages investment.
“Preserving our historic buildings is sometimes underestimated, but it is imperative,” Tompkins said. “They connect us with our past, provide opportunities for the future and make our town different than any other.”
Story provided by Enid News & Eagle