Effort would replicate building's 1891 features in bid to stimulate increase in tourism in the downtown core

A plan to restore Chapters' storefront to its original character received a substantial boost last month after the Newberg Downtown Coalition won a state grant of nearly $100,000 for the project. GARY ALLEN - A plan to restore Chapters' storefront to its original character got a boost last month via a nearly $100,000 state grant specifically aimed at revitalizing old main streets.

Funded by a grant specifically aimed at revitalizing old main streets, the plan is to stimulate the area through restoration, taking the exterior of the building located at 701 E. First St. back to its 1891 appearance and potentially drawing more tourism into town, according to Mike Ragsdale, NDC executive director.

"The case we made, the narrative in the application was the restoration of this building will enhance the block, will enhance that part of town — that's revitalization — and we believe and certainly expect that the revitalization of this old façade will assist in attracting tourists," he said.

The funding comes from a relatively new program approved by the state called the Oregon Main Street Revitalization Grant, established in the current budget cycle and given about $2.5 million in funding, Ragsdale explained.

He said the grant is only available to cities that are part of the Oregon Main Street network, part of the national Main Street America effort aimed at revitalizing communities' downtown, historically-core thoroughfares. The NDC is part of both networks. Ragsdale noted they have received the grant paperwork and are working out final details.

Built in 1891 under the name Morris, Miles & Co., Ragsdale said the building now housing Chapters initially had a storefront of exposed brick with the company name built into the sign, two entrances and a line of overhead transom windows.

One of the key efforts of the project, to be carried out by Powell Built, would be to remove the orange-painted stucco across the area that included those features.

Ragsdale explained that this stucco work juts out slightly from the main brick wall, leading them to believe that it was simply placed over those original features of the building and concealing the original brick, sign and transom windows.

"We think the original face of the building is still back there and they just built a frame and put this on it. We don't think they removed any of the original work," he said. "We may just get an amazing 'aha' moment when we take that off and see what's behind it."

Beyond that, he said building owners Bill and Maureen Rogers have committed to replicating the original features of the building, including the windows and double set of doors.

The grant funds about $97,000 of the total $163,000 project cost, and Ragsdale expects the NDC will secure the difference.

While it's not clear when work will begin, Ragsdale emphasized that Chapters will remain open throughout the entire project even as scaffolds are erected around it.

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