Contractor enjoyed working on a building older than he is
By Jessie Burchette
Working on the Rowan Museum was a very special job for Grover C. Miller.
The 83-year-old painting contractor doesn’t often get the chance to work on a building that is his senior.
“The museum, that’s about the oldest building in Rowan County,” Miller said. “It’s a privilege to work on the old building. I was born and raised in Rowan County. I’m planning on dying in Rowan.
“It’s gives us joy to keep our county buildings in good shape. It’s an opportunity to serve our county,” said Miller, who owns and operates Grover C. Miller Contractors, 9740 Stokes Ferry Road, Gold Hill.
The business is a three-generation operation. Miller’s son, Sonny, helps out part time, and his grandson, Brandon, works full time in the business.
Miller’s wife of 61 years, Vangie, handles phone calls and tries to keep up with the latest project.
Born during the Great Depression, Grover Miller learned the construction trade as a young boy.
“All you had was a hammer, a handsaw and a square,” he said. “I didn’t have a nail apron.”
These days, Miller revels in all the new tools and gadgets, particularly the many types of saws.
Even so, he’s hanging on to his handsaws.
“I’ll never get rid of them. They’re antiques, but I still use them some,” he said.
His favorite device may be the hydraulic lift, which has replaced scaffolding and ladders.
He rented a 60-foot, two-man lift for the window restoration project at Rowan Museum.
“It’s hard work, but it’s a lot easier because of the tools,” Miller said. He never could have done the museum windows without the hydraulic lift, he added.
“Heights have never bothered me,” Miller said. “Heaven is up there somewhere. That’s where I plan to go.”
Miller’s already got his eye on another lift if he gets the contract to paint the eaves and other trim near the top of the three-story building.
He recently completed painting all 110 windows in the old Post Office, which is now the Cohen Administration Building.
The windows in the museum, which dates to 1855, were a special challenge.
His first step was to make a close inspection of the glass in the windows. “I pointed out cracks in some of the glass before we got started.”
“I was surprised that more of them weren’t broken. There weren’t any of them out, just a few cracked.”
While Miller does mostly painting, his company also does reconstruction and repair on old and new buildings.
Through the years, he’s done a lot of work on county projects, ranging from painting at Fieldcrest Cannon Stadium to refinishing an antique wooden phone booth.