By Kris Heinze for the Lincoln Sentinel
Next door to the historic Cummins Block Building on the corner of Lincoln Avenue and Third street, sits another piece of Lincoln history restored. Craig and Mary Ann Stertz have completed four years of restoration work, and hosted an open house event for the community to see the finished building on Aug. 24.
“I’ve had so many people ask me about it and now that it’s done, we wanted everyone to be able to see the transformation, Mary Ann Stertz said. “Hopefully doing the Open House on a Friday night, people will be able to stop by and see all three floors.”
The Stertz’s have rebuilt the entire building top to bottom, while trying to preserve as much historical character and accuracy as possible. The building received a new roof, repointed limestone walls, a concrete basement floor, new storefront windows, and countless hours of work on the plaster walls.
“It [plastering the walls] really wasn’t hard, it just took a long time. I got the recipe from Jack [Crispin] next door, the historic mix of sand, lime and concrete,” Mary Ann said.
The upper floor features four long windows on the front of the building that have been restored, and the Stertz’s started a vacation rental business called Main Street Loft, providing a place for visitors to stay when visiting Lincoln and the surrounding area. Stertz said cash flow from the loft business has helped with the completion of the remainder of the restoration.
The main floor of the building features new glass for the original storefront windows from floor to ceiling, offering an abundance of natural light and a view of the sky that is long gone from many of the other Lincoln Avenue buildings. The old wooden entry door has been saved, along with a door to an old elevator shaft that’s been repurposed into a sliding barn door for a smaller office or kitchen area.
“There was nothing left of the elevator shaft to save, unfortunately,” Mary Ann said.
The main floor also includes a limestone back wall, with an archway over the backdoor to match the original arched windows. The Stertz’s rebuilt the arch over the door, and largely accomplished the restoration work with their own willingness to dive in and get their hands dirty.
“The majority of it we did ourselves,” Craig Stertz said.
“Dennis Cross helped us when we needed help, and did the stonework for us. We did hire out some of the sheetrock, plumbing and electrical,” Mary Ann said.
With the restoration project complete, and after four years with their labor of love, the Stertz’s are ready to see the building become a thriving business on Lincoln Avenue.
“We restored the building to restore the building, it can be purchased or rented, but we accomplished the goal of saving the building and not having a hole on Main Street,” Mary Ann said.
From a starting point of finding severe water damage, collapsed limestone, and crumbled plaster, the Stertz’s have brought the ruins back to life, and all the historic character that makes up Lincoln’s past was not lost forever.
“If this inspires anybody to take care of a building on main street, I’d be happy,” Mary Ann said.