A restoration effort taking place in historic downtown McMinnville was spotlighted by Main Street McMinnville’s Design Committee recently. Some local legal eagles are rejuvenating a building on Court Square.
“It is always rewarding to witness a historic building being saved, but it is especially exciting to see the type of restoration that has been done here,” said Rachel Killebrew, Design Committee chairperson. “There is truly not one thing I would change about this renovation.”
Attorney Tim Pirtle and his wife, attorney Mary Little, leased and renovated 112 S. Court Square, which is now Pirtle & Little Law offices.
The couple wanted to restore, not simply remodel, the property.
“We didn’t want to change the original footprint of the building, but rather study the history and ensure you feel that in the finished product,” said Pirtle.
The building is listed as 80 years old with the front facade having stone markings reading “Walling Block Rebuilt 1932.” The original structure burned and was rebuilt in 1932 using some of the existing walls and foundation.
Empty for several years prior to renovation, Pirtle & Little Law Offices is the latest in a long line of businesses to dwell within its walls. Since 1932, the building has housed the Park Barbershop, a restaurant, a law office, and a travel agency.
The couple was careful not to remove any original walls. Pirtle says they used historic glass blocks, which were found on eBay, to create additional walls to separate spaces. Using glass block allows a nice flow of light to enter those spaces, but still offers privacy, he says.
The couple also uncovered the hidden transoms on the front of the building, which had been painted over. To avoid losing the feature again, a smaller awning was installed. It allows enough covering on the front of the building for pedestrians on the sidewalk, but does not conceal the attractive feature, Pirtle says.
Another addition that ensured the historic character of the building was its sign. The design is catchy with being overpowering.
Killebrew says it is a mistake to try to use a large modern sign on a historic building. Signs should compliment the building rather than stand out from it.
“It is not unusual to see historic buildings remodeled and have a modern oversized sign that destroys the ambiance of the building,” Killebrew said. “Historic guidelines warn about this mistake and provide guidelines on how to make this important decision.”
Within the building, brick walls were exposed and original hardwood floors and light fixtures were restored. The first floor’s 1,800 square feet offers a waiting room, spaces for both Tim and Mary, conference room with large glass-top table and chairs, bathroom and a kitchen with all the comforts of home.
While much work has been done, restoration is not over. Pirtle says they plan to restore the 1,800 square foot space on the second floor and place another office and a second conference room there.
Despite being at the halfway mark, the building is recommended as a renovator’s how-to guide on historic preservation.
“I recommend anyone interested in restoring one of our wonderful historic buildings downtown stop in to look at Pirtle and Little Law offices and talk to Tim about the process he went through to achieve this near-perfect restoration to gain ideas early in your planning stage,” said Killebrew. “I commend Tim Pirtle and Mary Little for this magnificent job.”
Design Committee members hold meetings in downtown properties being renovated. The next meeting will be Dec. 7 at 11:30 a.m. at the Law Office of Ryan Moore at 115 N. Spring Street.
For more information about the Design Committee, please contact Killebrew at 473-8616 or Main Street McMinnville executive director Carla King at 506-5335.