It was after work had begun on the front of the Art Domestique building in downtown Washington when owner Richard Gilmore found under the existing facade that the building had a metal front around its two-story bay window.
The building, which is one of the latest recipients of the Washington Incentive Fund (WIF) to assist in a renovation, is being redone to closely resemble what it would have looked like when it was built in the 1800s. It was after Gilmore discovered the metal front, which he says is unusual for the time period the building was constructed, the project changed. An amateur student of architecture, Gilmore realized how rare the metal front is and decided it needed to be preserved.
“It’s something we aren’t going to take apart,” he said. “That is why the stripping and replacement is going to be done above it. That is going to make things another degree of difficult.”
He said the age of the facade is unknown. He has pictures of the building from 1911 and 1930, which don’t show the metal front. According to the historic review of the building, the front was changed sometime in the 1920s.
Gilmore said the project to redo the front of the building would have happened anyway, but a grant from the WIF fund made the project proceed sooner than it otherwise would have. Part of the WIF grant was to make changes to the building conform to what the building originally looked like. The grant was received in 2018, with Art Domestique being one of nine planned projects to receive funding.
Main Street Director Sarah Grunewaldt, who is administrator of the WIF grants, said since WIF was founded in 2008 it has given about $350,000 in grants and has leveraged over $12 million in improvements to the downtown area. The program offers grants to owners and businesses in the downtown area that wish to make improvements to their buildings.
“It has had a really long and successful history making pretty impactful changes in the downtown,” she said.
She explained when WIF started, it was a low interest loan program done in conjunction with area banks. Since then, Main Street has begun applying for grants from the Washington County Riverboat Foundation for the WIF fund.
Grunewaldt commented that the Art Domestique project had originally been to fix the woodwork under the existing facade before it was learned the facade was metal instead of wood.
Main Street Washington is applying for another grant later this year to continue offering WIF funding to downtown projects.
People wishing to learn more about the WIF program can contact Main Street Washington. Grunewaldt said another round of WIF grants will be given sometime in the fall.
Gilmore said work on the renovation of the Art Domestique building is continuing, with the somewhat less historical addition of solar collectors to the roof planned next.