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Minding the store: Summer’s first History on Tap tours the Youngs’ restoration in progress

By Mark Wineka
mark.wineka@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — At one time, this was a place to come for bolts, seeds, work gloves, tomatoes and birdhouses.

Thursday night, it was a stop for sampling New Sarum beers and taking a tour through an ambitious restoration and adaptive reuse project being conducted by Diane and Michael Young.

The Youngs — Diane is serving as the general contractor — are transforming the former O.O. Rufty General Store at 126 E. Innes St. and making it home for first-floor retail, storage rental units in the basement and six apartments throughout the 12,000-square-foot building.

The restoration-in-progress served as the kickoff for Historic Salisbury Foundation’s fourth summer of History on Tap events that combine some history and preservation with beer, to put it simply.

“This is a great project,” HSF Executive Director Karen Hobson said in introductory remarks to one tour group. The building, which dates back to 1922-24, is historic (qualifying for historic preservation tax credits) and nostalgic for many longtime Salisburians who frequented the general store.

In addition, it’s downtown and also under construction, Hobson noted.

“We usually have finished projects,” or those where nothing has yet been done toward a restoration, she said.

History on Tap is held at a different place on the fourth Thursday of June, July and August.

The July 26 History on Tap will be held at the 1896 city fire station on South Lee Street. The Aug. 23 HOT will be the McCanless-Busby-Thompson House on West Thomas Street, where a couple also are taking on a major restoration.

The July asnd August gatherings also will include craft beer samplings. While the HOTs are free (donations are encouraged), those going are asked to register for the popular events so a cap can be put on attendance.

Thursday HOT was “sold-out,” with roughly 150 people signed up.

Go to www.historicsalisbury.org to register or find out more information.

The Youngs and architect Pete Bogle took turns taking different groups through the O.O. Rufty General Store project Thursday night.

O.O. Rufty’s first general store was on North Main Street circa 1902 before he moved to this location in the 1920s. The Ruftys operated the general store until 2002. It was followed by the Okey Dokey & Co. General Store until a fire and the water used to fight the blaze caused extensive damage in 2015.

The building was vacant for a couple of years, and the Youngs — after removing much debris — started their restoration in earnest early this year.

A new stair tower and elevator shaft have been installed. There’s a new roof. Most of the hardwood floors have survived, except in places with significant wear, water and fire damage.

Rooms feature pressed tin ceilings — both original and reproduced. Bogle said the new pressed tin has come from Georgia; the new crown molding, from Canada.

Steel studs already delineate the various rooms and spaces throughout much of the building. Because of the full basement, the Youngs are restoring a two-story building that’s really three stories, Bogle said.

As for residential living, the basement will have one apartment in the back. The first floor will have two apartments in the back (a one-bedroom and a two-bedroom), and the third floor will have three apartments.

The second-floor units in back mimic the floor plan of those on the first floor. In the front portion of the second floor, the Youngs will be moving into a 1,564-square-foot, second-floor apartment that overlooks East Innes Street.

During Thursday night’s tour, visitors could take in the smells from Smoke Pit across the street, thanks to an open second-floor window.

Bogle said the basement apartment will be 567 square feet; the one-bedroom apartments, 700 square feet; and the two-bedroom apartments, 944 square feet.

As for the first-floor retail space in the front half of the building, Bogle said a business named Hive already has committed to the space. The company will have some retail storage and work space available to it in the basement, where storage rental units also will be offered to the public.

Bogle said the Youngs think the growing number of people living downtown will be in search of storage options, and this area will be climate-controlled.

History on Tap also offered some sidewalk entertainment Thursday night with Dirty Cosmic — guitar players Jay Corriher and Daniel A. Gurley.

Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263.

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