Façade Improvement Grant work uncovers Dyer County history

Tuesday, December 5, 2017
Pictured above, Liberty Cash Grocery Store signage is revealed after façade improvements are made to the New Life Union Mission’s Hidden Treasures thrift store, located at 219 S. Mill Ave.

Last week the Main Street Façade Improvement Grant work at Hidden Treasures Thrift Shop uncovered what historic preservation experts call a ‘ghost’ sign. Hidden Treasures at 219 South Mill Ave. is owned and operated by the New Life Union Mission. The Mission opted to make improvements to their façade with grant funding through Tennessee Main Street and the City of Dyersburg.

Many locals remember the Liberty Cash Grocery Store. The locals never knew they would someday see the painted brick sign that adorned the popular grocery store and gathering place again. This week a historically inappropriate awning covering the entire front and corner of the building was removed. “Just like the old store, we all figured the sign was long gone until work crews stripped away the lumber and shingles,” said Steve Guttery, Director of Downtown Development. “At age 14, I worked next door at Ball’s Feed Store and can remember everyone hanging out on that raised corner in front of the store,” Guttery added.

The Union Mission is just one of 11 downtown properties that qualified to paint, tuck point and restore the original look of their historic properties. Each Façade Improvement grantee agrees to do historically appropriate work to the front of their building and provide a 25-percent match to the funds provided. Most grantees see this as a starting point to doing great things with their property above and beyond the funding provided by the grant. Total grant funding provided will be $100,000 and the actual amount of spending to be produced is yet to be determined.

Other ghost signs that have appeared downtown in recent years include Cogbill's Men’s Store, Rosenbloom’s, Baird-Delaney Hospital, Graber’s, and Woolworth’s. “Old downtown buildings have so much character they seem to speak to us from another time. Every once in a while we take off a few layers of the new and find a treasure in the old,” Guttery said. Façade Improvement is a significant step toward revitalization of downtown Dyersburg. The corridor down South Mill Avenue, centering on Hidden Treasures Thrift Shop and Pennington Seed and Supply, is the new hot spot for public and private investment.

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