J.D. Rayburn never once considered tearing down the old People’s Bank when he and his wife, Debbie, bought the burned out building in downtown Olive Hill.
“I didn’t even like the building before it burned, but then I looked up and saw those perfect windows,” he said.
The Rayburns, who own and operate the nearby Scenic Hills Realty office, still have a lot to do as they proceed with their plan to develop the former bank into two business spaces downstairs and a pair of upscale apartments on the second floor.
The fire which gutted the space melted the overhead steel beams “and pulled the brick down with it,” Rayburn said, explaining the clean up and initial work has been done by Jerry Gee as well as Lewis County’s Nolan Brick & Block.
With the new roof overhead and timber framed for the apartment spaces (which will be similar the the apartment above Scenic Hills Realty where they spend several nights a week), Rayburn said they don’t have a set schedule for completion.
“We would like to have it done by next spring if we can.”
“Windows are next. They will be cut and built into the frame just like they are here in this office (Scenic Hills Realty).”
Rayburn said former owner Mike Fox made him a good deal on the building and lot, and he estimates the project will require $225,000 to $250,000 to finish.
“I’ve already had to spend an extra $2,900 because of lumber costs,” he noted.
Rayburn said he has a definite desire for a particular type of business in one half of the downstairs space.
“I’ve been wanting a coffee and doughnut shop for 40 years! Just a place where people could read the newspaper or the laptop or whatever they want to do,” J.D. said, grinning as he added he would almost consider running such a shop himself. The other ground level space will be renovated to serve as office space for a yet-undetermined tenant.
“We both love the old brick and the historical part of it. We bought it for what it is,” he said when asked if they considered tearing the old bank building down. “There was no interest ever to not restore it.”
Rayburn said he and his wife appreciate the opportunity to help bring something back to a town which has been good to them.
“This is my hometown – me and her both. We went to school here. And, we also love Grayson. There are good leaders in Grayson and Olive Hill.
“To me, this is the nicest town around. It has the interstate access on both sides, old brick buildings and good leadership. And the Olive Hill Fire Department … To me, those people saved my behind twice and I’ll always be indebted to them.
“People are looking at Olive Hill through a new pair of glasses, They are looking at what the possibilities are,” he said, citing a new water system and street improvements among Olive Hill’s positive attributes.
“I’m telling you, the city has a great future.”
Story and Photos by TIM PRESTON
Carter County Post