In the process of renovating a downtown building, developer Milt Robson has uncovered a surprising piece of Gainesville's history.
As crews sandblasted years of paint off the old Shuler's Great Outdoors store, the underlying brick exposed a cracked sign that dates back some 75 years and shows the space was once H.A. Terrell Sons' Grocery and Feed.
"We left most of it on the side of the building," Robson said. "When he sandblasted, he did take off part of the last ‘l' and ‘sons' so we're going to try to get a painter to put it back on there."
Robson purchased the building on the corner of Broad and Maple streets in March and began renovations soon after. Robson expects the remodeling to be complete sometime in the fall, but he isn't sure yet what he'll do with the building once it's complete.
He's considering leasing the space but also using it as a personal office and private museum to house his rare car collection. Robson, a longtime car aficionado, currently keeps his cars in a southeast Hall County barn, turned museum.
"I don't know whether I'll use it myself or I'll lease it when it's done," he said. "I just don't really know yet for sure myself. ... I just bought it because I enjoy a project like that."
Robson wasn't aware of the building's long history when he purchased it but now he hopes to maintain as much of the character as possible. The building survived the 1936 tornado that devastated much of Gainesville, including the Cooper Pants factory next door that burned to the ground after the storm.
Robson is working with contractor James Roper and a Marietta-based architect. He's hoping to have drawings from the architect in the next few weeks.
Electrical lines are currently running into the last word of the black-and-white grocery store sign, and Robson plans to move those lines elsewhere. Robson said the brick on the inside of the building has also been sandblasted to return the space to its original state.
About 15 years ago, Robson renovated an old lumber mill on Jesse Jewell Parkway that now holds the Wild Wing Cafe.