photo courtesy of the James A Garfield Historical Society

Garrettsville – Restoration leads to revival. The renovation of downtown’s Buckeye Block Building is out to prove that.

Just a year ago, the village’s anchor Main Street building was in such a severe state of deterioration, officials feared it was a public threat and might need to be torn down. Along with it would go four keystone businesses: Garrettsville Foot & Ankle Clinic, Hearth & Home Fireplace Shoppe, Shiffer’s Clock Repair, and Miller’s Lawn & Garden. And at the heart of the sagging building was the long-vacant Irwin Hardware space. 

photo courtesy of the James A Garfield Historical Society

Instead, local builder and developer Mike Maschek gave Garrettsville Village Council an offer they couldn’t refuse: Allow him possession of the building for the cost of back taxes… and he would shore up the entire building, renovate it, and secure street-level retail space for years to come. Maschek’s company, Garrettsville Ventures, also bought out the privately-owned second-and third-floor portions of the building. Miller’s Lawn & Garden and Shiffer’s Clock Repair retail spaces are owned by those business owners.

“Mayor Craig Moser was excited to save the building,” Maschek recalled. “He hoped that the restoration of this building would start a trend of revitalization throughout downtown. The mayor wanted people to not only visit Garrettsville, but to stay here and call it home. We need to create an inviting atmosphere that will encourage people to stay.”

“I didn’t want to see that building come down, leaving a gaping hole in the center of town,” Maschek said. “When Mantua’s hardware store burned down nearly 30 years ago, the town never quite recovered from that loss. Their downtown still hasn’t filled that space.”

Maschek recalled that the mayor had wished to witness the moment when the sagging old awnings came down from the Buckeye Block Building, because it was a signal that downtown Garrettsville was entering a new phase of revival. Unfortunately, Mayor Moser didn’t live to see that seminal moment.

Contractors work to install new windows and siding more suited to the nature of Garrettsville’s Historic main street. Photo: Estelle R. Brown

For the past six weeks, subcontracted work crews have been wrapping the entire building in new, cypress-colored vinyl siding (a historical color approved of by the Design Review Board). Around each of the building’s 44 new windows will be sandy-beige frames. Above each of the 20 windows facing Main Street will be decorative headers, which  the historic building used to have. Along the roofline of the building will be a decorative protrusion with detailed brackets.

The siding and windows should be complete within three weeks. New, hunter green canvas awnings will be erected across the front and side of the building within a month. Renovation should be complete by the end of October.

For Maschek, it’s been more than a business decision. It’s been a spiritual journey and the fulfillment of his calling “to be a ‘repairer of the breach and a restorer of the streets to dwell in.’ That’s my heart for Garrettsville: Restoration and revival of the village’s historic character. We can’t put new wine in old wineskins unless we revive the old wineskins first and make them like new.”

The new wine is already pouring into the old Buckeye Block Building. A new craft shop will open in the old Irwin Hardware space in time for the Christmas Walk in November, and T&B Tools is relocating here with its entrance along Center Street, opening sometime in September.

At this point, the second and third floors will simply be for storage. Maschek is seeking grant funding in order to restore the second-floor stage, 400-capacity auditorium and ticket booth to their former glory, as when future presidents William McKinley and James Garfield spoke there. He envisions this space as a nonprofit community arts center, but it will require several thousand dollars for restoration.

A final possible phase of restoration would be converting the third floor into three or four loft apartment units, pending available funding.

As far as Maschek is concerned, restoration leads to revival, whether you’re talking about people’s souls or the village of Garrettsville.