Downtown Paxton building renovated with a historical touch

PAXTON — The 19th Century building at 119 S. Market St. in downtown Paxton has a newly repainted facade, a new front door and new windows, and a beautified interior featuring a new drop ceiling, new cabinetry and new lighting.

But the renovations made to the building — the site of Mom & Pop’s Kettle Korn Stop — were done with a historical touch. The new features have brought the building back to its former glory.

The building’s new tin ceiling, for example, looks like it would have belonged when the building was built in the 1880s, said the shop’s owners, Alan and Marcia Meyer.

The new lighting features Edison bulbs, with the appearance of being far older than they really are.

The new, custom-made cabinetry — crafted by Todd Whitaker — has a historical feel to it, as well.

And then there’s the original brick wall on the shop’s interior north wall, exposed for everyone to see. The Meyers tore off the plaster that had covered it up.

“It’s really a pretty building,” Alan Meyer said. “We wanted to bring back the old charm of the city ... and make the town look fun and rich again.

“This building has been a hidden charm for a while.”

Over the summer, the Meyers did all of the interior renovations themselves with some help from friends, while the exterior painting was done by Mike Fox and the window and door replacement was completed by a Champaign-based contractor — Bacon & Van Buskirk Glass Co.

“There was no summer off for us, but that was OK,” Marcia Meyer said. “I’m glad we spent the summer doing this. ... This was totally a labor of love.”

The Meyers financed the window and door work through a local bank. They will be reimbursed $23,700 in tax-increment financing funds by the city as the property generates more real estate tax revenue in upcoming years.

Before the work began, the Meyers used the Champaign-based Farnsworth Group to help create conceptual drawings. The new look of the Meyers’ shop is consistent with a downtown streetscape plan completed by architects and engineers hired by the city.

While much was changed, some aspects of the building were left untouched. For instance, the Meyers cleaned up and exposed the building’s original upper windows facing Market Street. They also kept some frosted glass just below those windows that was installed years ago by Paxton historic preservationist Royce Baier.

“It really adds to the charm,” Alan Meyer said.

The front door was actually replaced twice, Meyer said.

“The door that we originally put in (as a replacement door), Marcia didn’t like — she said it was too commercial and it wasn’t homey — so we went back and looked and found this style of door,” Alan Meyer said.

The new door’s glass features a stained-glass Mom & Pop’s Kettle Korn Stop logo, developed by an artist from nearby Onarga, Alan Meyer said.

“At night time, it really shows through,” Alan Meyer said. “The popcorn (kernels in the logo are) kind of like a buttery, yellow-looking color.”

The Meyers may not be done improving the building, either, as they hope to eventually remodel the kitchen area and “maybe do some painting in the back” part of the building, Alan Meyer said.

“This is what I call Phase 1,” Marcia Meyer said. “Now I’m determined to go to Chapter 2, 3.”

The Meyers opened Mom & Pop’s Kettle Korn Stop at the downtown location in November 2016. Since then, the business — and its popular homemade kettle corn recipes — has gained quite the reputation in the area, with most of its business coming from people who do not live in Paxton.

“Our sales have really exceeded what we thought,” Alan Meyer said.

Prior to the kettle corn shop being there, the building at 119 S. Market St. had housed a variety of businesses, including Tommy Moore’s Signs & Designs before it relocated; Nighttime Video; Montgomery Ward; Dan’s Electric; and a couple of butcheries.

“We did find the old (Montgomery Ward) sign in the basement,” Alan Meyer said. “It’s in excellent condition, so we’re going to mount that (on a wall).

“And we found a butcher block. We figure it dates back to the early 1900s.”

An old photo — dating back to perhaps the 1920s — shows that Mom & Pop’s Kettle Korn Stop is not Paxton’s first popcorn business. The old photo shows what Alan Meyer described as a “popcorn shack” next to the Paxton Majestic Theatre.

Categories (4):News, Retail, Miscellaneous, Business
Location (3):Local, Paxton, Ford County

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