Friday, January 20, 2012

The Ferrell Building- a Real Survivor

The Ferrell Building in Danville, Virginia is a real survivor. The three-story brick building was built on Main Street from 1877 to 1886 by tobacconist S. H. Holland. Housing numerous businesses over the years including the Gravely-Holland Insurance & Real Estate Company, the Empire Café, the Tuxedo Restaurant and the Ferrell Furniture retailer, the building did not fare well after the decline of downtown in the 1950s.

By 1991, the Danville Historical Society learned that the building’s owner was preparing to raze it for a parking lot. The Historical Society advanced $3,000 to secure it from destruction in hopes that the Commonwealth of Virginia would take possession of it under its revolving fund. After several years, the Virginia Department of Historic Resources turned over the Revolving Fund Program and all associated structures, including the Ferrell Building, to Preservation Virginia.

The building was eventually sold twice to well-intentioned buyers; however, both rehabilitation endeavors faltered and the building was becoming more and more in need of stabilization.

Even though the Ferrell Building is a contributing structure in the Downtown Danville Historic District, which is listed on the Virginia Landmarks Register and the National Register of Historic Places, the city was not pleased with the building’s appearance and by 2010 began to hint at demolition.

Fortunately, the building was under a protective easement with the Virginia Department of Historic Resources that prevented demolition of the building. The easement also limited how the building’s exterior could be altered.

In 2010, the Winston-Salem based historic redevelopment firm, Rehab Builders, acquired the Ferrell Building and, with the assistance of the city, has turned an eyesore into one of downtown Danville’s brightest spots. Retail stores will eventually occupy the street level with apartments upstairs.

Recently, the City of Danville and the Danville Downtown Association hosted a mixer to allow the public to tour the Ferrell Historic Lofts. Everyone including City Council members and staff, the Mayor, the Chief of Police and people in the preservation and economic development communities were present to view the transformation.

“We believe this project is generating much of its public interest because the Ferrell building is truly a piece of the heart and history of downtown Danville.”

“The unique living spaces, attractive lease rates and location in the burgeoning River District create a fabulous downtown living environment,” said Patrick Reilly, co-owner of Ferrell Historic Lofts and project manager.

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