Downtown Fix-Up

The building at 201 Pennsylvania Ave. W. has a long history.

And the new owner of the building is working to extend that history.

Jessica Shepherd of St. Marys purchased the almost 25,000-square-foot building in July. Renovations have been going on since then.

Initially built in 1905 as Warren’s first post office, the building went on to house a liquor store, an AAA office, an insurance agency, and a hearing aid center. The one-story addition on the east side of the building, probably built in the 1950s or 1960s, has housed the headquarters of the local International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and a tattoo parlor.

The addition will be torn down. “It’s an eyesore,” project manager Jameson Shepherd said, adding, “It’s falling down.”

The main building, however, is structurally sound. “The main structure is very well built,” he said. “The foundation is in very good shape.”

The family is in negotiations with McDonald’s to acquire the triangular piece of land adjacent to the addition. And, while it may be used for parking in the short term, he said they have some other ideas for the vacant space.

Throughout, the upper floors have been apartments. The last occupant moved out in about 2007, according to Shepherd.

Some of the renovation work has been subcontracted, and some is being done by Jameson and his brother Jacob.

The scaffolding at the front of the building allows subcontractor Roger Luvison and Son of Youngsville to replace the concrete window sills and replace missing and damaged mortar. Shepherd said he expects that work to be done within two weeks, weather permitting.

Renovations inside will take much longer.

“Nobody’s maintained this building properly in decades,” he said. “It needs a lot of updating.”

“We are stripping a lot of paint, doing a lot of sanding,” Jacob Shepherd said. “We’ve ripped out ceilings. We’re going to do the floors. We’re replacing a lot of the windows.”

When complete there will be seven apartments. The two- and three-bedroom apartments are large – “huge” according to both Jameson and Jacob Shepherd.

The building features two vertical shafts that run from skylights on the roof to the base of the second floor. “The skylights allow natural light through all the floors,” Jacob Shepherd said. “Everything gets sunlight.”

In fact, “there is only one room without natural lighting,” Jameson Shepherd said.

He said he hopes the renovation of the second and third floors will be complete by July.

“It’s exciting,” Jacob Shepherd said. “I think it’s going to be terrific.”