The Lewis Supply Building
The Lewis Supply building is a 36,000 square foot three story brick warehouse located at the Southwest corner of Rightor and Ohio Streets in Helena, Arkansas and is in the Cherry Street Historic District.
Built in 1916 as a mill warehouse, the building construction is of heavy timber and steel frame structural components with solid brick exterior walls. Each floor, including the basement is approximately 9,000 square feet each with ceiling heights ranging from 12 to 20 feet.
Lewis (Mill) Supply Company was the original owner of the building followed by Southern Hardware in the 1950s until purchased by Dixie Glass in 1981. KB2S Incorporated purchased the Lewis Supply building in 1998 and transferred the property to Lewis Supply Building LP in 2011. Since 2011 a portion of the first floor has been leased by the King Biscuit Blues Festival for storage of their festival equipment and supplies.
The building design is very simple with the use of two foot thick interlocking exterior brick walls that become thinner at each of the upper floors, massive solid rough sawn timbers as posts supporting steel I beams carrying the 12”w x 15”h x 17’ solid cypress floor joists that are decked with solid 4”x6” tongue and groove flooring to handle the heavy loads.
Over the life of the building the uses and maintenance changed as the community and economic conditions changed. With the changes of use and ownership many components of the building were modified, removed or destroyed. The original wood and glass sliding freight doors were discarded and replaced with plywood or steel sectional doors. The only original example remains at the alley. The original wood entry doors were replaced with modern aluminum store front doors and only parts of the original frames remain. Windows were removed and replaced with sectional doors and window maintenance consisted of replacing missing panes with whatever glass or plastic was available creating a mix of dissimilar materials. Roof repairs stopped during Dixie Glass’s ownership creating leaks and causing extensive water damage to the interior, brick and windows.
KB2S spent over $250,000 on restoration and improvements to the building from 1998 through 2000. KB2S removed over 1100 cubic yards of damaged improvements, trash and debris that included all water damaged interior office improvements, all newer improvements that were added over time and all trash, debris and materials that had been left in the building. The existing roof was removed and all damaged components of the roof structure were rebuilt with new materials matching the original construction in size, species and manufacture. The roof membrane was replaced with an addition of 4” of insulation added to the roof deck to provide some ceiling insulation. All structural issues of the interior and floors were addressed and the inoperable freight elevator was removed and replaced with a new passenger elevator. The core plumbing and electrical systems were upgraded to meet the current building code standards. The fire sprinkler system was rebuilt with all new sprinkler heads and converted to a wet system ready to place in service. A new building security system was installed and renovations of the interior began in 1998. First floor improvements with two restrooms, two offices and a garage for commercial use were partially completed. Four residential units were partially completed on the third floor but due to local economic conditions the residential and commercial improvements were put on hold in 2000. For the last fifteen years general maintenance issues and repairs were addressed as they occurred.
The project currently underway will complete exterior renovations by replacing the Rightor and Ohio Street entry doors, repairing or replacing the building’s windows, adding exterior lighting, completing the 4030 square feet of the first floor commercial space to be used as a coffee shop and wine bar, two offices and up to four separate retail spaces with two public restrooms.
The exterior components of the building addressed are the mortar joints on the face brick willl be re-mortared to repair the loose and damaged mortar and any loose brick will also be re-set. The original exterior lighting was removed from the building. Gooseneck style warehouse lights, that were common during the era that the building was constructed, will be added at the first floor level along Rightor and Ohio Street to provide sidewalk and exterior lighting, security and complement the building’s exterior appearance. Alley lighting will be commercial style weatherproof halogen lights. The entry(s) on Rightor and Ohio Street will be rebuilt in a style that replicates the original design with new doors, side lights and transom windows. To provide needed space for the required electric service the exterior alley garage door will be removed and an alcove will be constructed. The sliding garage door will be replaced with a commercial style roll up door at the alley. The existing commercial glass alley exit door will be replaced with a solid steel security door to provide an emergency exit.
The interior renovations being completed in the commercial space improvements will use similar finishes and colors that existed in the building when originally constructed. The interior finish will be exposed brick and textured walls, open beam ceiling with exposed heating and cooling duct work, warehouse lights, ceiling fans and tile entry floors. Restrooms will have tile floors, water saving fixtures and meet ADA requirements.
The exterior brick will be power washed to remove soil, grime, mold and vegetation in the grout. Loose masonry grout will be removed prior to the re-grout of all exterior brick joints. The new mortar will match the original color. Windows will be repaired/replaced to match the original window appearance. All window openings with damaged or missing window sills will be repaired or rebuilt and all windows grouted in place.
The commercial store front aluminum door at the alley exit will be replaced by a steel fire door with panic hardware and alarms. Glass block will be used above and at the side of the door to provide natural light and match the glass block in the alley windows. The door and frame will be painted to match the other entry doors.
Exterior lighting along Ohio and Rightor Street and the alley west of the building will be installed. Along the Rightor Street frontages wall mounted gooseneck style warehouse lights will be mounted approximately 12 feet above the sidewalk to provide perimeter and sidewalk lighting. The doors in the ally will have unobtrusive wall mounted commercial style lights to provide security lighting in the alley.
The interior renovations will complete the commercial space improvements that will be used as a coffee shop and wine bar, offices and retail spaces, entry and restrooms for its customers. The interior finish will be the existing brick and new smooth textured walls, exposed beam ceiling with exposed heating and cooling duct work, warehouse style lights, ceiling fans and tile entry floors. The Restrooms will have tile floors, water saving fixtures and meet ADA requirements. New electrical service, wiring, lighting, heating and AC will be added for the commercial area.
The completion of the Lewis Supply building’s exterior restoration is the most important component for the success of the commercial ventures on the first floor and also contributes to the success of any other downtown redevelopment effort. This is one of the larger buildings in downtown Helena and is extremely visible due to its location and size. A restored building that is clean, fresh and attractive will generate positive interest and draw people. Having a completed exterior with ample interior space readily available helps develop additional business ventures. If the exterior is not completed, no one will be interested in the building, nor will it spark anyone’s imagination as to the possibilities. The investment in the building’s appearance conveys a positive sense of confidence in the area and implies security and safety that will help draw businesses and customers to the area. Retail businesses located in the building must be able to attract customers and the exterior sets the tone and impression for the business, neighborhood and community so it is vital that the exterior is fully completed.