When the original metal molding began peeling off Nina Kirkland’s 19th century Main Street building last year, she wasn’t looking for a quick and easy replacement.
“We spent a lot of time looking for someone who could do an actual reproduction,” said Kirkland, whose Coldwell Banker VIP Realty agency occupies the building she has owned for the last 30 years.
In April, high winds ripped large panels of the sheet metal from the eaves of the structure and scattered them on the sidewalk, forcing the fire department to close down the walkway and nearby parking spaces until workers came in to secure the building.
Because much of the molding was either damaged or displaced, Kirkland said it required consulting everything from photos to an artist’s rendering by the late A. Jack May to show prospective craftsmen what needed to be replaced on the 1800s structure that once was a Masonic lodge and housed a pharmacy.
She considered bids from numerous contractors, but after months of searching, she remained unsatisfied with the historic authenticity of the work. “I would have known the difference,” Kirkland said.
It wasn’t until she saw a sample of the work done by Lewis Metal Works near Salvisa that Kirkland felt comfortable enough to proceed.
Over the last several weeks, crews from Lewis Metal Works have been installing about 400 pieces of sheet metal precisely cut to replicate what was on the building before.
It took several months to custom make each piece by hand, a process that impressed Kirkland with its detail.
Company owner Tim Lewis said the company probably will be done with the restoration in about a week.
The company has made metal components for other restorations, including Lincoln County Courthouse, but Lewis said the current project is the first time his shop has done everything from the design and fabrication process through the complete installation. He said it has been valuable experience for him and his workers.