New owners make historic building shine again

O ne of Whitehall’s newest businesses has been given an authentic appearance by its owners.

Erika Foy and Neil Vaughn, owners of Brown Dog Auction Company and State Line Flea Market, have spent the last few months painstakingly rehabilitating and renovating the former Skenesborough Garden Florist at114 Main Street.

Their stated goal is to return the building to its original splendor. 

“We want the building to look like it in did in 1866,” Vaughn said. “We’ve had to undo 150 years of alterations to the building to get it there.”

Vaughn obtained historical photographs of the building from the historical society that he used to determine what the building looked like at one time.

“We’ve tried to rebuild it from what I gleamed from the photographs,” he said.

But the problem with 100 year old photographs is they were taken with 100 year old cameras that lack the clear resolution, dynamic contrast and colors of today’s cameras, so a little guess work proved to be necessary.

“It appeared there was a fire sometime in the late 19th century and the building was renovated using a Victorian interior, so we went with that,” Vaughn said.

Work on the building began earlier this spring with crews gutting the interior and progressively making their way to the exterior of the building.

Contractors removed a small building attached to the rear of the main building, replaced the exterior façade that had been plastered there in the 1950’s and made numerous changes to the building’s interior.

They even painted the exterior with “Civil War era appropriate red paint.”

As you would expect from a building of its age, workers found a number of surprises-some good, some bad-along the way.

Vaughn said they had to remove six or seven different floors that had been installed on top of one another just to get to the original floor and discovered that that a live spring runs underneath the left side of the building which helped contribute to years of moisture damage.

But there were pleasant surprises as well. Workers found beautiful tin ceilings hidden above a drop ceiling and managed to re-use some of the original building materials.

Although not all the work has been completed yet, crews were able to finish enough work to finish the first floor in time for Foy to host an auction earlier this month.

“It came down to the wire to get it open for the first auction,” Vaughn said. “But we were happy to have the bottom open and will hold another auction in Oct. and some more this winter.”

Vaughn said he and Foy purchased the building nearly three years ago and had considered putting in a restaurant before abandoning the idea in favor of an auction house, an industry in which the pair is very familiar with.

The duo owns an auction company inDutchessCountyand has held several auctions and flea markets at the old Paddock Restaurant on Route 17, another building they own.

 “Once we had some direction, it was easy to build to our specifications,” Vaughn said.

Foy said the couple discoveredWhitehallsix years when they passed through town during a vacation and were drawn in by the Skene Manor.

“We just kind of stumbled upon it (Whitehall),” Foy said. “We just had to stop.”

Since then the couple has purchased a couple pf properties in the community that they hope to renovate.

But first they’ll try and complete renovations at 114 Main St.

Vaughn said they are still trying to determine the exact finish to put on the floor and will then begin moving to the upper floors. He said there’s a large open space on the third floor could make a nice dance studio.

The remainder of the building should be complete by next fall.

 

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