The buildings at the corner of Wall Street and National Avenue are getting a major renovation, as many who drive past the prominent corner have noticed.
The work is being done by Jennifer LaRoche.
LaRoche is the sole owner of the buildings and has been acting as the general contractor of the renovation.
“It is coming along and it has been a fun process so far,” LaRoche said.
When completed one of the storefronts will be the Common Grounds Coffee Shop, currently located at 116 S. Main.
“The coffee shop will be the storefront that is closest to the alley,” on Wall Street, LaRoche said.
What the building next door will house when completed, is uncertain.
“We have a lot of ideas but time will tell,” LaRoche said. “I am just working on getting it closed-up to the weather right now.”
LaRoche purchased the buildings in January 2018.
“As a Fort Scott native, I felt that I needed to do my part in caring for the history of our downtown,” she said. “It has been a joy to work with the historical society and the National Parks and Recreation Services. The city of Fort Scott has been supportive and a big part of making our downtown great again.”
“There is not one part of it that has not been overturned,” LaRoche said. “We have opened up and exposed as much of the history of the building as we could.”
Research has been done on the history of the two buildings and will be displayed throughout the buildings when the project is complete, she said.
Mid-Continental Restoration, with offices in Fort Scott; Parkston, North Dakota; Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas; and Kansas City, is repairing and replacing the masonry on the buildings.
A three-man crew is repairing and anchoring the bricks as needed, Chris Fountain, foreman, said.
They began the process in November 2018, and “expect to be on it through the rest of this year,” Fountain said.
He currently is having difficulty finding a match for the brick facade, he said.
“The ‘bones’ are solid,” he said. “The facade is what needs to be repaired.”
One of the building’s roof has been repaired and the other is not yet completed.
“There are trees up there three-feet tall,” Fountain said.
Architects and engineers have been involved in the renovation also and currently carpenters are working inside, he said.