A storefront that has stood on West Main Street for more than 100 years has been given new life.
When Edwards Market opens this fall it will culminate more than three years of laborious renovations and serve as a rebirth of sorts for a building that has been a center of commerce in the local community since the first brick was laid in 1911.
The storefront’s latest reincarnation began three years ago after Tropical Storm Irene ravaged the area. The storm delivered upward of a half-foot of rain causing the Mettawee River to swell and overrun its banks. The flooding caused significant damage to homes and properties along the river, including Edward’s Supermarket.
“The river flooded the market through the basement and washed out the driveway,” Joe Thomas, owner of Positive Energy, said. “There was five to six inches of mud in the basement.”
Jean Edwards, who along with her late husband, Phil, had owned and operated Edward’s Supermarket for 45 years, contacted Thomas about repairing some of the damage. But after some dialogue, the subject of the conversation took a right hand turn.
“Through some subsequent conversations, she convinced me to buy the building,” Thomas said.
Thomas initially viewed the property as a means of providing steady labor to his crew during the down season as well as a unique opportunity “to fix a building in the community.”
He and his employees immediately began the arduous process of cleaning up after the storm, clearing the half-foot of mud that caked the inside of the building and repairing the damage done to the driveway.
Next they moved on to the roof. Like many buildings of its age, the roof had been repaired several times, but in many cases, new material was simply laid over old material. Workers painstakingly ripped off several generations of the roof, including the rafters and decking.
“There was 45,000 pounds of material that we stripped off by hand,” Thomas said.
After a new rubber roof, buoyed by two inches of Styrofoam insulation, was installed, crews began to focus on the basic structure of the building. The first and second floors were jacked up simultaneously; not one, but two sets of staircases were ripped out and removed and finally new floor joists and decking was installed.
The work then progressed to the building’s façade. By this time Thomas’ wife, Jennifer Kelley and Jodie Whitney had proposed the idea of opening a market in the building. They, along with an architect, exchanged ideas on what the exterior of the building should look like. With plenty of input, Thomas ripped out the front of the building and began the process of rebuilding the façade. The goal was to give the building an “old time” appearance, with a modern twist: the entire wall is made of PVC.
“I never seen a picture of the building, but Jean said it looks a lot like it used to look,” Thomas said.
With the exception of a steel reinforced porch on the rear of the building overlooking the river, much of the rest of the work was done to the interior. All new plumbing and electric was installed, thermal pane windows, drywall and LED lighting were hung, tile and wood flooring was installed, and the building’s main supports were enclosed in decorative wood trim.
During construction, Thomas said he and his crews found various leftover remnants from when the building was Weinberg’s Hardware store. Edward’s Supermarket moved into the building from the site of what is now Nelson’s Insurance Agency in the 1960s.
When the building reopens for a third time, it will do so as a multi-faceted market selling locally-sourced produce and meat, handmade baked goods, sandwiches, ready-to-eat dinners and an assortment of beverages.
Gavin Kelley, a former Granville High School graduate who most recently worked in Albany for Capital District Community Gardens and will serve as the market’s manager, said the idea is for the market to be a place where patrons can’t get quality local food. He said sandwiches will contain fresh cuts of meat served on bread cooked that day. The market will also cater to a variety of tastes and will offer both domestic and micro beers.
“We’re looking to be local. We want to integrate the community,” Kelley said.
He said they don’t have set a firm opening date, but hope to open sometime in the next few weeks.