Nine years ago, a fire heavily damaged a building on the Borough of Mercersburg’s square but revealed a log structure in the process.
Now, after much discussion and planning, the Irwin House is remodeled with modern amenities and preserved relics. The late 18th-century building is now set up for retail, offices and a visitors center.
Tenants include The Dressing Room and the Tuscarora Chamber of Commerce. A nearly 500-square-foot office remains available to lease on the second floor.
For all the work completed and investments made inside, building owner John Flannery most enjoys the side courtyard that has chairs, tables, color stamped concrete, a stage and speakers for music.
“This is my pride and joy of the whole property,” he said.
Flannery and his wife, Ame, bought the Irwin House from the Mercersburg Borough Council in early 2010.
Renovations and a 24-foot expansion off the back started in late 2011.
Inside are fresh drywall, wiring for technology, cathedral ceilings, new hardwood floors and ceiling fans.
“You wouldn’t think you’re in a log cabin,” Flannery said.
Still, original beams, windows, cedar shingles and informational signs reveal glimpses of the building’s past.
“Everybody is overwhelmed by the building. They didn’t have the vision that John had,” said Mary-Anne Gordon, executive director of the Tuscarora Area Chamber of Commerce.
The chamber moved into its basement office two months ago. Gordon said she feels the building and its visitors center have done great things for foot traffic and downtown commerce.
John Flannery said his wife’s store, The Dressing Room, has doubled its business since it moved from down the street.
“When people say the downtown square is the most important place (for economic development), we’re seeing that here now,” Gordon said.