Work Underway on Clarion’s Historic Haskell Building
CLARION, Pa. (EYT) – Work is underway on the Haskell Building in Clarion, the new home of Explore Your Town, Inc., the parent company of exploreClarion.com, exploreVenango.com, exploreJeffersonpa.com, D9sports.com, and CookForest.com.
According to EYT President Jake Bauer, the project on the building located at the corner of Main Street and Fifth Avenue across Main Street from Bob’s Subs is in the demolition phase.
“We have removed approximately 4,000 square feet of office space that was used for the (Clarion County) Adult Probation office,” Bauer said. “That includes removing several tons of drywall, drop ceilings, and other construction-related material.”
The result of the demolition work so far is that the downstairs area of the building is more open and looks a lot more like its original layout when the building was occupied by Haskell’s Furniture.
“The ceiling is now back to its original 16-foot height, and you can see the original tin ceiling,” Bauer said. “We have also exposed the six original support columns.”
According to Bauer, carpeting has been pulled off the floor in some areas, and in a few places, the plywood that was placed over the original hardwood floor has been removed revealing the original floor.
“We are going to try, if feasible, to restore the original wooden hardwood floors,” Bauer said. “We have no idea what condition some of them are in right now. We are planning on removing a few portions of the subfloor and see what we have. If we can find a feasible way to restore the original floor, we will do that.”
Currently, the brick walls inside the downstairs of the building have been re-exposed, and Bauer is still deciding if he will keep them exposed.
“We contracted a company from Erie, Antonio & Son,” Bauer said. “They specialize in brick restoration work.”
According to Bauer, there are three layers of bricks between the outside wall and the inside of the building, and some of it is in better condition than others.
“I am waiting to see what my options are before making any decisions on what to do with the interior bricks,” Bauer said.
Bauer said he is also going to try to salvage and restore as many of the original window frames as possible.
“There are also a handful of windows that will likely be restored as well,” Bauer said.
One of the things Bauer is most excited about with the first floor of the building – which will be used by EYT various Explore events including political forums and live-stream broadcasts such as Explore’s popular annual Battle of the Burgers Event – is the plans to be able to share the space with the general public when it is not in use for an EYT event.
“We are going to offer the space as a banquet facility/event center,” Bauer said. “People will be able to rent out the first floor for wedding receptions and other events when we aren’t using it. We won’t provide catering or other services, just space.”
According to Bauer, details on exactly how the banquet/event center would look are still being worked out.
As part of the ongoing plans to renovate the first-floor space, Bauer said ADA compliant bathrooms and a bar area will be added.
“The plan is to also, hopefully, expose the original wooden staircase,” Bauer said. “And, we are going to restore the original mezzanine level, as well.”
As for the second floor of the building, which will house the EYT Media offices, Bauer said a little demolition work has been done in that area, but a lot of work still needs to be done.
“A month in, we have made a lot of progress in a short amount of time,” Bauer said. “A lot of that is thanks to local laborers who have helped out.”
According to Bauer, one of the cool things that has been discovered during the renovation is the existence of two old vaults – at least one was a Farrell and Company vault – that date back to the building’s days as a furniture store.
“One was found behind the drywall in a bathroom,” Bauer said. “We had to break down the drywall to get to it. When we opened it, we found a lot of old relics from Haskell’s Furniture. Little stuff like furniture tags and sale tags and stuff like that. I was hoping to find a $1 million dollars (he laughed as he said this) but no such luck.”
Bauer purchased the building earlier this year from Cornerstone Development. Explore Your Town, Inc. will be the only media company located in Clarion Borough when the office opens.
According to Bauer, the company plans to put between $300,000.00 and $400,000.00 in renovations into the building which dates back to the 1870s.
In addition to Haskell’s Furniture and Clarion County Adult Probation, the building also housed Arnold’s Big Store and a funeral home at one point in time.
Traffic count studies have labeled the corner of Main Street and Fifth Avenue as the busiest corner in Clarion County, and the location is ideal for any business looking for high visibility.
“I can’t think of a better location for our headquarters than Main Street, Clarion,” Bauer said in the release announcing the company’s purchase of the building.
“As an anchor building of Main Street, the location is second to none, and the sky is the limit.”
“This is more than just a new building for us. This is an opportunity to help save a piece of Clarion’s history and, at the same time, make some history of our own.”
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