Irwin House rehabilitation begins in Mercersburg

Owners John and Ame Flannery hope to have the building open by the end of March

December 21, 2011|By JENNIFER FITCH |
  • John and Ame Flannery are shown Wednesday next to the Irwin House on the square in Mercersburg, Pa. The couple plans to renovate and refurbish the structure.
By Jennifer Fitch, Staff Writer

MERCERSBURG, Pa. — Construction is under way to rehabilitate a late 18th-century log house and convert it into business space on the Borough of Mercersburg's square.

The building's owners, John and Ame Flannery, hope to have the renovated and expanded Irwin House open by the end of March 2012.

The couple owns and operates several other businesses in the area.

"It's going to be nice when it's completed," Ame Flannery said. "I'm excited to see it done."

The house, built by Archibald Irwin, was discovered when a 2003 fire destroyed the structure surrounding it. The Mercersburg Borough Council sold the house to the Flannerys for $10,000 in early 2010.

John Flannery said working with committees and elected boards delayed the start of construction.

"There's so much red tape you have to go through to get things done," he said.

Because he failed to get approvals for on-site parking, the Irwin House will only have on-street parking options.

The Flannerys created a 1,200-square-foot addition to the house.

They have a possible tenant, C.M. Smoke 'N' Guns, for the basement level, and they might open a coffee and pastry shop. The property also will have a small welcome center for visitors to Mercersburg.

"The second floor has two office spaces, about 700 square feet each. We're in negotiations with some businesses already to lease those two spaces," John Flannery said.

Mary-Anne Gordon, executive director of the Tuscarora Area Chamber of Commerce, said the Irwin House's redevelopment will be a boon for Mercersburg.

"The chamber sees the Irwin House project as changing the landscape of downtown. ... It's going to be the prime location of open real estate in downtown Mercersburg," she said.

Included in the Flannerys' plans is a landscaped outdoor space that Gordon hopes could host art and music events someday.

"The inside needs completely redone, complete rehab of three floors," John Flannery said.

He acknowledged that few people are creating new businesses in the slumped economy.

"The goal is to get some commerce in town. ... I saw an opportunity to bring business to this community," Flannery said.

The Flannerys are proprietors of Flannery's Tavern on the Square in Mercersburg and the John Allison Public House in nearby Greencastle, Pa. Ame Flannery also operates The Dressing Room in Mercersburg.

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