Downtown building revived by insurance company, event space coming
Laura Peters, Staunton News Leader Published 12:43 p.m. ET Nov. 29, 2018
STAUNTON - Construction workers are tediously scraping paint off the original tin ceiling inside a historic building in downtown Staunton.
The old storefront, which has been home to a bevy of different businesses, is seeing new life — but also reviving the history inside.
Hammond Insurance Services is moving out of its office in Jolivue to the downtown building at 5 E. Beverley St. The company purchased the building earlier this year for under $260,000 and is sinking nearly $1 million in renovating the two stories.
Hammond Asset Management will be managing the building and Hammond Insurance will occupy it.
It's going to take time though.
Renovations started in August and are expected to be completed in the coming months. According to Heather Flynn-May, the commercial property manager for Hammond Asset Management, all of the construction and renovation are weather dependent. But, move-in should be in the spring, she said.
Also, they have to be specific on how things are done because it's a historic building and they want to receive funds from the federal and state tax credits that have started applying for.
"There are certain things we have to abide by," she said.
That means no glaring colors, keeping all historic aspects of the building intact and staying with the theme of other buildings that are next to it.
It also means spending hours scraping the layers of paint off the tin ceiling tiles.
"It all has to be done by hand," Flynn-May said. "The tin is so thin you can bend it with your fingers. We have to handle everything with care."
Other renovations and event space
Hammond Insurance is also taking the top floor of the building and turning it into an event space, which will include a full kitchen, bedroom suite, bathroom, wet bar, seating area, dining room and small office space.
The idea is to rent out the space for a variety of events — bridal parties, business meetings, work functions and more.
The upstairs is sectioned off a little — but has to keep a somewhat open floor plan to allow for the natural light from the front windows and the original skylight.
Flynn-May hopes the space can be utilized for pre-wedding events or organizations like the Staunton Happy Hour Club.
"There are so many restaurants downtown, but I know personally, trying to plan something, you're not always going to be able to get in there," she said. "Wedding season is so prominent in Staunton."
The building will also be getting solar panels from Altenergy out of Staunton to hopefully break even with energy costs.
According to history from the Historic Staunton Foundation, A.E. Harusberger constructed the building in 1893. Harusberger was a dry good merchant.
Originally, the building had an ornate iron-clad facade, the history said. That was removed when a new sign was put in in the 1960s.
The storefront has been home to Short Circuit, an auto parts store and originally as The Racket Store — which was a department store that sold cooking stoves, refrigerators, sewing machine and various other goods.
Hammond Insurance dates back to the 1980s and offers insurance coverage options for personal and business. The company had offices in the Echols building next to the Augusta County Courthouse before moving out to the county in the 1980s.
They have locations in Richmond, Palmyra, Harrisonburg, Lexington and Scottsville.
Roger Hammond and Eugene “Chip” Foster started the company as Hammond and Foster and is now run by Roger Hammond's two sons Dain and Daryl.