Originally created 08/20/05

Owners want historic house back to its old glory



The DeLaigle House is getting a new look - its original one.

The 132-year-old building at 551 Greene St. in Augusta is getting $700,000 in repairs to preserve the building and bring in tenants, a coffee shop and an accounting office.

"We want to keep the decor as close as possible," said Jan Hodges, the building's co-owner, while standing in the center of the four-level building.

In 1992, the District Attorney's office took over the building, which 10 years later was vacated and considered for demolition.

City officials considered turning the property into a parking lot, said Paul King, the owner of Rex Property & Construction Management Inc.

Rex Property stepped in and purchased the building with hopes of getting a tenant or selling it, Mr. King said.

If the DeLaigle House had been destroyed it would have been a travesty for a town with a limited number of historical buildings left, Mr. King said.

"These are the buildings that make Augusta what it is and not like everywhere else," he said.

Last year, Ms. Hodges, a co-owner of Stokes-Hodges Auto Group, purchased the building with Robert Burch, from Burch & Associates, a public accounting firm. Mr. Burch is planning to relocate his offices there from Walton Way Extension.

"We just love old," Mr. Burch said.

Also in the works is a coffee shop on the patio level of the home, to be named The Jury Room.

The name is a reflection of the location, across from the Municipal Building, The Jury Room's manager, Owen Rice, said.

The shop will be open early to capture city employees' caffeine cravings and will serve sandwiches and salads for lunch. Plans for serving gelato also are in the works, Mr. Rice said.

The offices and coffee shop have a tentative opening date for Nov. 1, Ms. Hodges said. In the meantime, workers are busy restoring the building to its original French chateau style.

Drop ceilings from the District Attorney's occupation are being removed, and a sprinkler system is being installed.

The owners also are hoping to receive financial aid from the Downtown Development Authority to help repair the herringbone brick sidewalk, which is barely visible now underneath the grass.

Reach Tony Lombardo at (706) 823-3227 or tony.lombardo@augustachronicle.com.