EASTON The Historical Society of Talbot County recently recognized Barclay Designs owner Barc Upchurch for his work in renovating a former gas station on Hanson Street in Easton to create a showroom and office space for his custom cabinetry and millwork business.
A rare surviving example of a Pure Oil "English Cottage Style" gas station, the building at 14 N. Hanson St. was built in 1935 with a domestic character that fits comfortably into residential neighborhoods, according to the historical society.
The building was in "severely deteriorated condition," though, when Upchurch purchased it in 2006 with no set goals, he said.
Upchurch was looking more for space to rent than buy at that time, but the Hanson Street building piqued his interest and "the wheels got to spinning," he said.
"It was a historical building with unique characteristics," Upchurch said. "I thought it would be a good fit."
So Upchurch got to work on the renovations, which involved gutting and refinishing the inside of the building, updating the electric and plumbing, installing new windows, and enhancing the building's aesthetic value with landscaping and hardscaping, among other things.
Upchurch refused to settle for just a "good restoration," according to the historical society, and instead, sought to advance the building's systems and technologies with a focus on energy efficiency and "green" products.
For example, heating and air conditioning demands are served by a fully automated, state-of-the-art, five-well geothermal system, and a rainwater collection system provides a water source for landscape irrigation, according to the historical society.
"The committee was impressed with the overall scope and attention to detail that the project showed," said Eleanor Shriver Magee, executive director of the Historical Society of Talbot County, of the committee that selects the society's annual Heritage Award recipients.
Upchurch was honored May 17 with the 2010 Heritage Award for Preservation of a Historic Structure, after being nominated by local architect Charles Paul Goebel.
Additionally, Magee said, the committee was intrigued and inspired by the uniqueness of the building and how Upchurch has been able to maintain its historic traits while transforming it into a 21st century place of business.
"He's respected the past, but made it something that can be taken forward in a business setting," she said.
Upchurch called the Heritage Award a "pleasant surprise," and said he hopes to use the building to give back to the community that has been so supportive of his business and others.
"Hopefully, I can share this with them and give back as way to say thank you," Upchurch said, alluding to possible fundraisers or other events that could be accommodated in the building, which will eventually have a working kitchen as part of the showroom.