TIPP CITY — After sustaining heavy damage in a fire last month, Browse Awhile Books is on its way to reopening —hopefully, the owner said —by the end of the year.
“Want to see why this building is still standing?” owner Bill Jones asked, pointing up at where the ceiling used to be in the first floor of shop. “Look at those cross beams. Solid oak. They don’t build like that anymore.”
Much of the building has been stripped down to the studs. In the front room of the store, salvaged shelving is waiting to be moved out, metal ceiling tiles are stacked on the floor.
“We hope within the next two weeks to actually seriously get started on construction,” Jones said. He added that the building is in good hands with Boone Restoration, which specializes in fire and water damage repairs. The company will also handle repairs to the adjoining Merchant31 building.
Roof trusses have been ordered and should arrive soon, and then the first major construction project will begin.
The 1871 building is part of the downtown historic district, and will be rebuilt to look exactly as it did before the fire — just newer, Jones said.
The building will need a new roof and new floors. The top half of the building — including two apartments — will be completely rebuilt, and the facade will be replaced.
Until then, crews are hard at work emptying the building and getting it ready for reconstruction.
“I think we’re most of the way through the books on the first floor,” Jones said. The books in the basement, which were largely untouched by the damage, will likely be able to stay where they are.
He spends about six days a week at the store, along with store manager Amanda Carl and a crew from Boone Restoration, clearing out books and debris. Thousands of salvaged books are being stored at Ginghamsburg Church.
Several local businesses have stepped forward to offer support, Jones said, extending his gratitude to the downtown business community.
While there is still so much to do, — “There’s about a million things up in the air right now,” Jones said — he is eager to see the building restored and the store reopened.
“This is home,” he said.
Reach reporter Cecilia Fox at firstname.lastname@example.org.