Facade program provides new life for aging buildings

December 27, 2006|by JENNIFER FITCH


WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Harry Morningstar this summer compared rehabilitating a building to unwrapping a present, saying that what is below the added-on porches, siding and railings can either be delightful or infuriating.

"When you are working with these 100-year-old buildings, you don't know what someone did 40 years ago," Morningstar said.

"You never know what you're going to open up," project contractor Brad Royer of Waynesboro's Royer Construction said.

What Morningstar did over the past several months is see that the add-ons were stripped from a double house at 8/10 N. Potomac St. and another house at 12 N. Potomac St. In their place are new trim, railings and a porch along with fresh coats of paint.

And the double house is wrapped up in a whole new way, complete with red bows, thanks to the tenants.

"The building's never been decorated before," Morningstar said. "(The facade work) really gave a lot more pride in residency."


Morningstar obtained matching grants for the work through a facade improvement program administered by the Borough of Waynesboro on behalf of the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development. The program matches the property owner's restoration costs dollar-for-dollar up to $10,000.

The two projects on North Potomac Street took longer than anticipated and cost 20 percent to 30 percent more than expected, Morningstar said.

Structural problems and change orders contributed to the delay and price increases, Royer said.

Yet, Morningstar is pleased with the results and already has a grants application pending for another project.

"I would not have done these (two) if not for the facade improvement program," Morningstar said.

Last week, Morningstar and Royer discussed finishing details for the two buildings. Morningstar happily talked about putting stars on the building fronts, a touch that signals the end of one of his rehabilitations.

Both Morningstar and Royer identified the new porch on 8/10 N. Potomac St. as their favorite part of this facade project.

"It made that look so much better," Royer said, while they looked over "before" pictures of the double house. The pictures show the unstable porch drooping four inches in its middle.

"Although there are chairs up there, I think the tenants were afraid to sit up there," Morningstar said.

The projects' Pittsburgh architect saw the work recently, and, overall, he was happy with the results. He said the arches above the windows should not have been painted white, according to Morningstar.

He recently pointed to several other facade projects in the works on North Potomac Street and feels his two might have contributed to those in a domino effect.

"That's exactly what the project is intended to do," Morningstar said.

Know more ... in 30 seconds

The issue: Facade improvement efforts, which have been chronicled in an occasional Herald-Mail series, began in late August at 8/10 and 12 N. Potomac St. in Waynesboro, Pa. The buildings are being restored with grant money obtained through the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development.

What's new: Waynesboro area businessman Harry Morningstar is overseeing finishing touches to his two buildings. Rehabilitation work included new porches and railings and fresh paint.

What's next: For more information about the grant program, contact the borough manager's office at 717-762-2101.

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