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Locals reawaken historic Montgomery buildings

May 25, 2019

It was a 71-year-old former auto parts garage, along a road that commuters use to stream out of downtown Montgomery at the end of the workday. Jerome Moore had to be talked into buying it by his mom.

“I told her I had enough buildings,” Moore laughed. Mom won.

Now it’s one of downtown Montgomery’s most popular gathering spots, with Common Bond Brewers running a full production brewery and taproom on one side of the building and Bibb Street Pizza Co. serving up food on the other side.

It wasn’t exactly a quick flip. Moore, a commercial realty broker, partnered with Jeffrey Paulk of Paulk Construction for a more than year-long process that Moore described as “very intricate, and very detailed, and very labor intensive.”

It’s one of 10 projects being honored by the city, recognizing developers who have helped give new life to some of the capital city’s historic structures over the past year. They stretch across the city and involve a similar level of commitment from the people behind them.

Jud and Tom Blount were honored for their work in turning a closed Cloverdale bank into what’s now the Vintage Cafe. It incorporates the building’s history, from lining the counters with safety deposit boxes to converting the bank vault into a quiet room.

Local developer Jerald Labovitz won an award for his years of work restoring the former Ruth & Sons building at 25 Dexter Ave., which is now part of a surge of development along the block. Labovitz hired craftsmen and artists to make ensure accuracy, down to installing part of a window backward because that’s how it was initially put in. An antiques store opened inside the building earlier this year.

The city’s historic preservation coordinator, Christy Anderson, quoted economist Leopold Kohr, who said “Men do not love Rome because she is beautiful. Rome is beautiful because men loved her.”

“I think you’ll see Montgomery is just a little more beautiful because of the work undertaken by our nominees,” Anderson said.

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