It was a long, cold winter for the Schoonmakers.
Bob and Dorie and the kids, friends and family along with members of the community watched helplessly as Black Friday took on a whole new meaning for North Granville. The fire, spotted by a passerby who returned to the store to inform the clerks working inside, unaware the buildings roof had a gaping hole burned in it
“There was two feet of water in the basement after that,” Schoonmaker said Friday as he surveyed the beginnings of the return of Schoony’s.
“The fire just would not go out and the fire department did what they needed to do when it just kept burning,” he said.
Months after the devastating fire it turns out North Granville is getting a brand new Schoony’s. Even as fire fighters doused the smoldering ruins of the family-run store Schoonmaker vowed to rebuild.
What has filled the intervening months, Schoonmaker said, was a lot of time of the phone with the insurance company. “We’ve just been going through the process,” he said.
The initial plans shifted from rebuilding the existing structure. Finally after months of work a determination was made – tear it down.
“There was just too much water and smoke damage, they decided it was better to tear it down,” he said. “Everything just got ruined inside,” he said. Then came a painstaking inventory process of every last bit of every last product delaying any other action.
“It took a long time to count everything piece by piece. It was a loooong process,” Schoonmaker said.
With the exception of the latest, and hopefully final delay, the discovery of asbestos in the roof.
Schoonmaker said subsequent inspections during the evaluation process for the remainder of the building, asbestos was found.
“That kind of delayed things for us,” he said. The asbestos was in roofing tiles which were found under other roofing.
The new rubberized roofing had been placed over the old roofing, but now that the material had to be disturbed specialist had to be called in.
What looked like the stirrings of construction was in fact preparation for the asbestos work.
The ceiling had to be firmed up to allow the workers from Neoplanta Restoration, Inc. to come and remove the asbestos, Schoonmaker said. When they finish up some time March 28, then they’ll start pushing it all in,” he said.
Schoonmaker said he was going out of his way to use local people for all of the rebuilding work he could, but local asbestos removal experts were impossible to find. The asbestos demolition crew had to come from Albany with special equipment just to remove the portion of the roof before work could continue.
With any luck that process will come to an end in May with the opening of the brand new store, he said. Schoonmaker said he’s hoping to see the construction process take about 12 weeks.
“I used Bill Roberts as my GC (general contractor), Wes Barlow’s going to do the electric, Hooper the insulation – I tried to use all local guys,” Schoonmaker said.
Schoonmaker said he hopes to be open for the summer.
Finally getting to the point where some kind of progress can be seen feels pretty good for someone who was just starting to get comfortable with the role of shopkeeper when a fire stopped everything.
“It’s kind of fun and exciting after going through that painstaking process,” he said. Going back up in place of a building whose origins are lost to many, but is known to have been part of a much larger building at time will be a new building with an old feel.
“I know it’s a very old building, I know that, I kind of hate to tear it down,” Schoonmaker said.
Schoonmaker said he’s going to be sorry to see an old building with such character go, but at the same time he sees the value in building new and eliminating all of the old flaws especially the ones he didn’t know about like the one that caused the fire
The new Schoony’s will look old. Schoonmaker said he’s going for a kind of homey country store look be called “cracker barrel” complete with a front porch.
“It’s going to be nice,” he said.
As much of a relief as it will be to be open and operating again, Schoonmaker said it will also be nice to have people stop accosting him in the supermarket.
“It’s going to be nice for the community to have this; people are excited to see it coming back,” he said.