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Posted on: March 11, 2021

Downtown Lenoir wins award for building rescue project

A man walking a dog outside of 818 Harper Ave in downtown Lenoir

The City of Lenoir Main Street Department, architect David Maurer, and his wife Allison Gray recently received a North Carolina Main Street Award for saving the old Stine’s Ice Cream Parlor building in Downtown Lenoir.

Stine’s Ice Cream Parlor was located at 818 Harper Ave. The ice cream shop shut down sometime before the 1960s. The property was used for various purposes during the following decades. 

The Brakefield family owned the building. Their father had operated the old ice cream parlor, and they had good memories of the shop. But, the family didn't know how to save building. Main Street Director Kaylynn Horn, Planning Director Jenny Wheelock, and Housing Inspector Zach Clark stepped in to rescue the building and help guide the owners to a win-win solution for the family and the City.

"Many times, people have emotional attachments to properties and buildings, and rightly so," Horn said. "The Brakefields had fond memories of growing up in their dad's ice cream shop. They didn't want to see the building go, but they weren't sure how to resolve the code issues."

Horn, Wheelock, and Clark discussed options for saving the building with the family. The old ice cream parlor needed a lot of love and care. The group explained what kind of investment someone would have to make to restore the property. Eventually, after considering their options, the Brakefields decided that selling the property would be the best way to save it.

"I know that was a hard decision for the family," Horn said. "But it was the right thing to do to save the old shop and it was the right thing to do for Downtown Lenoir."

Luckily for the Brakefields, someone was already interested in the building. In 2016, Horn brought together a group of architects, property owners, and downtown stakeholders to discuss state building code and how to use tax credits to save historic properties. Horn offered workshops to the group on "The Power of PNC" and "Mortar Matters ~ Making CENTS of Historic Tax Credits." Restoration Architect David Maurer participated in these discussions and gave presentations to the group.

After touring Downtown Lenoir with Horn, Maurer asked her to keep in touch and let him know if any development opportunities became available in the city. In 2018, the opportunity to save the old ice cream parlor at 818 Harper Ave. came up.

Horn made the phone call, and Mauer and his wife Allison jumped on the opportunity to save and restore the building. The Maurers renovated the property from May to December 2019. They renovated the first floor for commercial use, and converted the second floor to another downtown apartment. Mandem Syndicate Barbershop opened on the first floor in August 2020 and the second floor apartment is currently rented.

The rescue effort brought $228,000 of new investment, saved a downtown building, brought a new business into the City, and brought new residents into Downtown Lenoir. Today, 818 Harper Ave. is valued at $188,100 on the Caldwell County tax books. For those reasons, the project received an Award of Merit - Best Endangered Properties Rescue Effort from the North Carolina Main Street Program. This is the seventh NC Main Street Award the City of Lenoir Main Street Department has won in recent years.

Mayor Joe Gibbons said he was thankful for the partnership between the Brakefields, the Maurers, and City staff.

"I was so glad that we were able to come together and save that building," Mayor Gibbons said. "I want to thank the Brakefield family for working with the city, and I want to thank the Maurers for investing their time and money to save it. David and his wife did a fantastic job."

Mayor Gibbons also said he's happy that the City won yet another NC Main Street Award.

"It’s a great honor to win another NC Main Street award for the City of Lenoir," Mayor Gibbons said. "I’m proud of all the Main Street Department and the Planning staff who helped make this project happen."

Related:

David and Allison Maurer, Mayor Joe Gibbons, Kaylynn Horn, and the Brakefield family

Pictured from left, front row: Joan Pernick, Oralee Brakefield, Libby Brown. Back row: Main Street Director Kaylynn Horn, Mayor Joe Gibbons, Tony Brakefield, David Maurer and wife Allison Gray.

A exterior photo of 818 Harper Ave showing Mandemn Syndicate Barbershop in the first floor

Thanks to the renovation work of David and Allison Maurer, 818 Harper Ave is still standing. The first floor is home to Mandem Syndicate Barbershop and the second floor is a downtown apartment.

People play pool and a barber cuts hair in the barbershop on the first floor of 818 Harper Ave

You can relax and play pool while waiting for a cut in the barbershop.

Two women and a baby sit on a couch in the second floor apartment of 818 Harper Ave

The second floor apartment has high ceilings and a great view.

A women drinks coffee at a kitchen table in the second floor apartment of 818 Harper Ave

The apartment comes with  plenty of amenities including hardwood floors and high-end appliances.

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