Illinois News

Century-old Pittsfield building to get new life

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Jan. 20, 2020 12:01 am Updated: Jan. 21, 2020 10:17 am

PITTSFIELD, Ill. -- If the walls of two-story brick building at 115 Washington St. in downtown Pittsfield could talk, contractor Joe Petty would like to hear the stories.

For several months now, Petty and his colleagues with Petty Construction have been working on renovating the storefront for its new owners, Whitetail Properties.

"This is a pretty big undertaking, but I am very fortunate to have the opportunity to be involved in saving this building," Petty said. "It would have been a big loss to the community if this building was gone."

The building opened in 1885 when John Smith opened a feed and stable business. He later expanded his business to selling saddles and providing carriage and buggy maintenance.

By 1913, the store had modernized and sold agricultural implements.

In 1962, it was converted into a furniture store and opened as Friday Watson Furniture. In 1977, Kay Miller purchased the business and property and renamed it Miller Furniture.

Today the building is hardly recognizable as crews have stripped the building down to its bones, leaving 13 wooden support beams, a tin ceiling on the main floor, and exposed brick walls throughout the building. Crews have also laid the foundation for new flooring on the second floor and will install new flooring on the main floor.

Crews will also repair four years of water damage to the building and replace the building's roof.

Petty said he hopes to have it all completed in time for Whitetail Properties to move in to the 13,500-square feet space, which will feature 26 new office spaces and a large meeting room, by late May or early June.

Whitetail Properties Broker and Sales Manager Jeff Evans said as a native of Pike County, Ill., he too was excited by the chance to revitalize part of his hometown.

"Pittsfield is where it all started for us and when that opportunity came about, we just jumped on it," Evans said. "Obviously the location, being on the main drag through town is a major plus, but really it was seeing that building and having a vision of what that building could be as we move our company forward in the next 10, 15, and 20 years."

Evans said the realty company, which has agents and employees in dozens of states across the country, will continue to use its current location in Pittsfield at 121 Madison St.

Once the Washington Street location is opened, Evans said real estate agents and those involved in the sale of real estate will move there. The production, marketing, and IT departments will also stay at Madison.

Whitetail Properties investment in downtown Pittsfield is certainly being noticed.

"We have had just strangers just walk in," Petty said. "Everyone wants to know what is going on here. People are really surprised by just how much work is being done."

Multiple downtown Pittsfield business owners and employees say the renovations are helping to continue to inject new life into the sprawling downtown area.

Among those business owners is Carla Black, who is the owner of the Flowers and More. She is a native of Louisiana, Mo., and remembers when the streets of her hometown were lined with department stores. Today those storefronts sit vacant.

"I think it is a positive thing," Black said. "Obviously, the building is going to look completely different, but we are glad to see more businesses opening up and moving to the Square."

Evans agreed, saying, "I have had a lot of people stop me and ask me about the building. I think everyone is just super excited by the project and excited to see how we were going to take a little bit of the old, combine it with new features, and use all of those pieces to make it into something that works for us."

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