BERLIN – Members of the town’s historic district commission praised façade plans for a Main Street building this week.
The commission approved Councilman Troy Purnell’s plans to improve the façade of his building at 116 N. Main St. on Wednesday. Several members expressed excitement upon learning that the modern building would be getting a historic look to match its neighbors.
“I’m delighted,” commission member Mary Moore said. “It’s like the last piece of the puzzle on that side of the street.”
Purnell presented the commission with drawings illustrating his plans to add a brick veneer to the front of the stark building as well as copper flashing and other minor accents.
“I’m just over the moon,” said Carol Rose, chair of the commission. “Main Street is going to be so beautiful.”
Commission member Laura Stearns agreed.
“I can’t even think of anything I’d change,” she said. “When I opened the packet and saw it, I was thrilled.”
Though commission member Robert Poli questioned the use of brick veneer as opposed to solid brick, Purnell explained that the cost and the weight of brick prevented him from pursing it. In addition to being more expensive than brick veneer, solid brick would be too heavy for the façade.
Rose pointed out that the building, built in 1990, didn’t have the historic value its neighbors did.
“That building is not 1897 like Fathom is,” she said. “What’s there now is not historic.”
Purnell told the commission that following Wednesday’s approval he would be getting prices for the work. He plans to wait until fall to begin the renovation, however, so as not to disrupt Main Street during its busy summer season.
Another project approved by the commission this week was the installation of new doors and some fencing at the building formerly home to the Berlin Coffee House. John Fager, the building’s landlord, presented the request.
Moore praised the changes.
“Anything’s going to look better John,” she said. “That always was an unattractive part of the street.”
Bryan Brushmiller, who will be opening The Burley Oak Café in the building, quickly gained the commission’s approval for the sign he’d be installing. It will be wood and will be in the same spot the coffee house sign was. When asked about the business, Brushmiller said he frequented coffee houses on his travels and wanted to keep this one going.
“We’re taking over the coffee shop and we’re going to put a brewery inspired flair on it,” he said. “There’s usually a café in small towns. We really enjoy the different types of beverages.”
On Wednesday, the commission also considered a request from Lisa Hall, proprietor of the Berlin Butcher Shop, to install an ATM on the shop’s exterior wall. Hall wants to install the 19- by 26-inch machine to the right of the shop’s entrance.
“It really won’t be that noticeable,” she said.
Hall said she had realized during the town’s special events that many people wanted to withdraw cash to spend and that the town only had one ATM inside Taylor Bank.
“It runs out of money and it’s not handicap accessible,” she said.
While Stearns said she agreed the town needed another ATM, Poli said he did not think it belonged in the historic district.
“It destroys the look,” he said, “the curb appeal.”
Commission member Betty Tustin praised the improvements Hall had made to the building but said she had questions about how the ATM would impact the butcher shop’s parking area and how it would be lit. She suggested Hall consult with Police Chief Arnold Downing about the ATM.
“I’d like to have his input,” Tustin said.
She also pointed out that Taylor Bank’s ATM was accessible by wheelchair, something she knew firsthand after visiting it with her daughter.
The commission agreed to table Hall’s request until next week to provide commission members time to visit the building and for Hall to consult with the police chief.