The 2021 round of Downtown District Façade Improvement Grant projects has been completed. These projects included Williamsburg Square, Kruep Construction, and Prime Service Cleaners. These three projects are special not only because they are beautiful examples of what the Façade Improvement Grant Program is intended to do, but because they kicked off during the long, challenging days of the Covid-19 pandemic when building materials such as glass, railing, and gutters were becoming scarce. However, O’Fallon Downtown businessowners are nothing short of resilient. These three projects pressed on despite material and labor shortages and the results are absolutely stunning.
Williamsburg Square, located on the corner of North Oak Street and West State Street, is home to art studio Courage and Grace and Congressman Mike Bost’s office. This grand building’s facelift was done with attention to both detail and history. Inspired to apply for a grant by one of her tenants, owner Cindy Hawkins applied for the grant first to improve the railing on the wide front porch. Working with local historian, Brian Keller, and her contractor, Hawkins learned more about her 1860’s era building and decided to include design elements that would pay homage to the past.
Williamsburg Square was once the largest general store in O’Fallon, operated by the Tiedemann sons until 1902.
In addition to the railing work, the building owner added period appropriate shutters and copper gutters. Despite the supply chain issues, Hawkins was pleased that, with a little patience, no substitutions or compromises were needed.
Kruep Construction, nestled in the middle of the 100 block of East State Street, has a unique history too. This building was not originally built at 121 East State Street, but rather was picked up and moved to the site and squeezed in between to two neighboring buildings. The building later went on to house Loyet’s Shoe Store. Current owner, Don Kruep, was removing the old soffits when he discovered the original Loyet’s Family Shoe Store sign underneath the front awning. Kruep remembers visiting Loyet’s for shoes as a child and was excited to uncover this piece of history.
121 East State Street was transformed with new lights, a stone base, EIFS, a parapet wall, and storefront windows.
Prime Service Cleaners, the final project to be completed this round, was completely transformed with the removal of the large, shingled awning.
In its place is a new fabric awning with scalloped black and white trim that flutters in the breeze. Cynthia Carson, co-owner of the building, was inspired by Parisian boutique storefronts, and accordingly chose a clean, tidy black and white color scheme with complimentary lighting and signage.
The black and white mural on the north side of the building and the small, matching awning on the south side carries the theme around the building and brings visual interest to previously overlooked parts of the structure.
One of the many benefits of the Façade Program is that it often results in additional investment and building improvements beyond the scope of the exterior renovations. Prime Service Cleaners owners Kent and Cynthia Carson continued their remodel inside the store, installing new flooring, new service counters, and welcoming decorations. Hawkins is also making additional improvements, adding new, matching railing on the North Oak Street side of her building to continue the look from West State Street.
Considering your own façade improvement project? Hawkins stated she “would encourage anyone thinking about a façade improvement to pursue this support from the City.” She has enjoyed very positive feedback from tenants and friends about the update, as well.
The improvements proposed by the 2022 winners of Façade Improvement Grants, Three Sisters Crafts at 129 East State Street and 101 Cherry at 101 South Cherry Street, are already underway. Be sure watch these buildings as they transform.
For more information on the Façade Improvement Grant Program by click here or contact Community Development at (618) 624-4500 x 4 or via email at [email protected].
Want to read up on other past winning projects?
Visit: Downtown Façade Improvement Success Stories – O’Fallon (ofallonillinois.org)