Rowland’s Property at 101 Days to House Several New Ventures in Downtown Buchanan
by Rebecka Hoyt, Editor & Photographer, and Jen Garry, Publisher
Michael and Elaine Rowland, property owners of the old Hometown Video building located at 101 Days Avenue in downtown Buchanan, have plans to open up several new ventures later this summer! For one, the space that used to be Hometown Video will soon house a small business retail venture named Hometown & Co. Mercantile & Food, a program to support and foster local entrepreneurs. Not long ago the Rowlands took us on a tour through the two-story building to see how the progress is coming along in each of their three different spaces.
Beginning on the south side of the building is the portion that Elaine refers to as “The Sliver,” confirmed by historic documents that referred to it as “a sliver of a building.” This will be a bar area of the restaurant inside with a walk-up take out window right on the Days Avenue sidewalk, ideal for concert goers at the Common who can participate in the Social District. Originally an alley at 103 Days Ave, it was covered in 1930 to became Mary Redden’s barber shop first, then a jeweler and Western Union office before being combined with the restaurant at 101 Days somewhere in the 1960s-80s. When the Rowlands bought it, the roof was in the basement after spending almost 20yrs vacant, so they have since completely overhauled/reinforced the structure throughout the building, making it ready for new life in downtown again.
Working our way north to the main building, the Redden Block was built in 1884 by the Redden Brothers to revitalize downtown after a major fire occurred in 1862, and it sported some of the first plate glass windows in Buchanan. Starting as a grocery, this building has hosted a variety of retail, services, organizations and much more in its history.
Early use of the south portion of the downstairs (next to the sliver) was as a furniture upholstery shop, and in the 1920s it was renovated for restaurant use and became Emory’s, punching through the wall to join with the sliver some years later. This was the spot for Buchanan’s elite to meet, and “back in the day for the Clark executives, this was unofficially their private dining room and had all old wooden panels.”
For this space they have been partnering with a local restaurant/brewery River St. Joe for an exciting new venture to be called “Thistledown Buchanan Craft,” with family-friendly dining and live music. With their renovations to the space, when they open later this summer they will have the biggest commercial kitchen in downtown Buchanan. More information to come later on the menu.
“We didn’t pick this up to be a money-maker for us, we’re raising our children in Buchanan, we both work in the non-profit sphere and care about the community; we wanted to put our efforts where our words were,” explains Michael.
The curved archway entrance on Days Avenue leads up to two apartments that will start out on Airbnb to rent. Two bedrooms, two baths along with laundry and dryer, provide great views of downtown through the tall windows. A lot of hard work and sweat of taking out the old windows and painting was done by Michael. One interesting fact: it has taken thirty (30) dumpsters to empty out the building and fill in flooring and roofing. “It’s hard to see what it was before, the floors were wavy because of leaks and water. The whole project would’ve been a lot easier if we weren’t so crazy about preservation,” stated Michael and Elaine.
The second floor was segmented with walls and lowered ceilings, lots of small dark spaces, every window was covered in plywood that had been painted brown. The Rowlands reopened each window, repainted, and fixed all the windows they could save, and they made sure to closely match any they had to replace. Beautiful details are hidden throughout, like intricate designs found on the door hinges of the apartments.
Speed of things, problems with repairs, behind the scenes, they see a finish line. What has been enjoyable about this process? Elaine states, “we love the history the building has, and we also talked with Peter Lysy, local historian at Buchanan District Library.” While they were taking stuff out, they saw remnants of activity past and have left them there. “As we dismantled, we found studs that had been signed by area executives, like board members at Electrovoice, Clarke, Buchanan Steel, Metal Form,” stated Elaine.
“Our goal is for something to do, to buy, or to engage in. It’s helping small businesses and it’s helping our community on both sides, and bringing people into our building to engage in business. People bring their talent and see where their business lands, and consulting them and getting business plans and to put in good effort to see if their business will work,” Michael states.
Ralph McDonald is the general contractor, and getting the subcontractors are the ones they are waiting on to come in to do their thing(s) and certain things have to be done in order before doing something else.
Of course taking on this property has had challenges: Michael states, “different phases, the speed of things and when you open up a new wall you find new problems, and making sure we weren’t falling through the floor. The finishing stuff happens fast and that’s the easy part and bringing in a 40 ft long beam, just making the turn and getting it in there and along with the red tape, being in a floodplain, the city’s cooperation and Main Street (Michigan Main Street Program).”
Contractors have asked them, why do you want to do this, how do you want to do this, are you sure you want to do this? This is a big project and a lot of behind the scenes that you don’t see and there’s always been work. “Buchanan Craft and River St. Joe have a good vision and understands it, it allowed them to buy the property and some investors wouldn’t take this on. We have dumped a lot of money on and a lot of faith. Buchanan deserves for this building to be open and believe in the community with the restaurant to embrace it and help us with it. We can now see the vision and excited of what’s going to happen in the next couple of months,” stated the both of them.
A few things have been enjoyable during the process of learning the history and it deserves the light and love into it. They put in a new roof and new floor after taking the shutters off the windows which brought much more light in. There’s more momentum going on now. Elaine has gathered ideas for this property by watching Rehab Addict & No Demo Reno, magazines, and Pinterest. Michael ended with, “She’s the brains, I’m the braun.”
Stay tuned for when Hometown & Co Mercantile and Food announce their opening, we’ll be sure to let you know in our future articles!
About LiveBuchanan: Our mission is to preserve, improve, and revitalize downtown Buchanan, the core of our community. LiveBuchanan is an organization whose task it is to coordinate communication and promotion, make design improvements, and encourage ongoing economic development by leveraging our unique history, culture and physical assets.
About River Saint Joe: Located on the beautiful certified organic Flatwater Farms, River Saint Joe is a farmstead brewery destination. We are committed to sustainable organic practices and offer a scenic setting to enjoy food and drink made from ingredients grown on the farm or down the road. River Saint Joe is a unique and expansive venue for events and memorable experiences. Through connections to the land and its bounty, we aim to cultivate well-being for our community.
River Saint Joe Brewery on Flatwater Farms
- Typical Hours:
- Monday, Friday, Saturday ~ 12pm-9pm
- Tuesday, Thursday ~ 4pm-9pm
- Wednesday ~ Closed
- Sunday ~ 12pm-8pm