Press "Enter" to skip to content
Zach Westerfield stands in an upstairs window of the historic Collier Building that his company has spent the last year and a half restoring. The revamped facility will house two commercial spaces and seven loft style apartments when the work is done. The building is believed to date back to 1884. (Photo; Walter Geiger)

Grand opening at restored Collier Building set for Aug. 12

The public will get its first glimpse of the immaculate restoration work done at the historic Collier Building at the corner of Main and Market streets in downtown Barnesville during grand opening ceremonies set for Saturday, Aug. 12.

The building will be open for tours from 6-9 p.m. There will be a food truck onsite and artifacts and photos of the renovation will be on display.

This photo by Zach Westerfield shows the damaged lintel beam which had to be replaced.

The restoration is the latest project undertaken by Southern Venture Partners (SVP) and its co-founders Zach Westerfield and Milt Calloway. Westerfield grew up in Molena. He is the son of Robert and Carmen Westerfield. Carmen Westerfield spent decades as NRCS district conservationist for this area and worked out of the Barnesville office.

Calloway is a native of La Grange, Texas. Both he and Westerfield are graduates of the US Air Force Academy.

SVP purchased the building in October 2021 and, with the help of architect Dominus Vitae of Colorado, began planning its conversion into two commercial spaces fronting Main Street and seven loft-style apartments of various sizes in the remaining space. The larger of the two commercial spaces has already been leased. Those spaces will not be completed by the grand opening.

The 5,616 square foot building was built in the late 1800s by J. C. Collier who had various textile interests locally. Additionally, his family had a cotton plantation in the Piedmont District which was one of the largest in the state at that time.

The restoration of the Collier building turned up many artifacts, including these old ad bills, that will be on displayed at the grand opening Aug. 12.

“Although some records indicate the building was built in 1898, we have photos that show it as being completed as early as 1884. We believe the earlier date to be more accurate as we found documents in the building predating 1898. Some of those documents were stock certificates from the Oxford Knitting Company, the predecessor to the Collier Manufacturing Company,” Westerfield said.

As is the case with most restoration projects, problems presented themselves as the building was gutted.

“Once we got in there, we realized the building was in much worse shape than we initially thought. Most of the floor structure on the first floor was rotting and a lot of brick was deteriorating. All the mechanical systems were old and in disrepair,” Westerfield said.

As an historic renovation, the project was subject to rules and guidelines established by the federal Department of the Interior and the Georgia Department of Community Affairs. That led to unique challenges.

“One such example was the requirement to save the original tongue and groove wall bisecting the first floor even though we had to pour concrete underneath it to secure the foundation,” Westerfield continued.

Another major hurdle was a rotting lintel beam which supported the entire brick facade on the front of the building. This caused the facade to sag.

“The building was only a year or two from falling into the street. The challenge was not just in designing a replacement beam but installing it without dropping the brick. That necessitated designing a custom support system that allowed us to install a new I-beam,” Westerfield added.

Westerfield stands in what will be the largest of seven loft apartments in the building. (Photo: Walter Geiger)

In addition to the aforementioned stock certificates, other items of interest were found during the demolition project. They include several hand-painted advertising bills of the type once posted around town and notary stamp from the 1890s. These and other gems will be on display at the grand opening.

As the celebration approaches, the building is a beehive of activity.

“We may still be touching up paint but we are having the grand opening. We hope everyone will come out and see what we have been up to behind those construction screens,” Westerfield concluded.

Be First to Comment

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    Website by - Copyright 2021