SIDNEY — When you reach 135 years of age, you’re bound to need some maintenance. That’s what’s happening with one of downtown Sidney’s historic buildings.
The Burkhart Building, located at the northeast corner of Main Avenue and Court Street, has been undergoing brick and mortar repair and repainting the past few weeks. Jeff Helman, who along with his wife, Cindy, owns the building, said this week the project should be done by early to mid-September.
To most people, the building is known as the location of Ron and Nita’s. Established in 1986, Ron & Nita’s is a locally owned and operated shoe and clothing business run by the McCrum family, according to the business’ website. “We have been a part of Sidney’s downtown since 1864.”
The Burkhart Building, 134 S. Main Ave., was built in 1880, Helman said. He commended Nita McCrum for her efforts to maintain the building, but he said the structure needed the more extensive work now underway. In addition to brick and mortar repair and repainting, the roof was cleaned and recoated, damaged chimneys were removed, and work is being done on the electrical system, Helman said.
Contractors working on the building include Jr Levering Construction, of Sidney, and Cathcart & Co., of Piqua. “We’re trying to make it look good and beautify downtown Sidney,” said Christian Koenig, of Cathcart, the painting contractor. “We stayed with” the burgundy and white paint scheme, Helman said.
In recognition of the building’s historic stature, a sign that was on the building is being restored, too. “When we get the sign reinstalled, we will have some type of unveiling,” Helman said.
According to HMdg.org, the Historical Marker Database, the marker erected in 2008 stated: “This graceful yet sturdy building is of the Italianate design. Shoes have been sold here since 1864, making it Ohio’s oldest continuously operating footwear location. William Covill operated his store here in 1870. John Burkhart built the current structure in 1880. Robert Kayser and others owned it over the years. It has been the home of Ron & Nita’s since 1986 and is currently owned by Virginia and Kenneth Kaser.” Ownership, of course, has changed since the marker was erected.
The Helmans are aware of the historic significance of Sidney’s downtown buildings; they also own the Piper Building, 124 S. Main Ave. They have formed Piper Vision LLC in their effort at “keeping the downtown from being torn down,” Helman said.
Absentee ownership of downtown buildings has led to problems in recent years. The city was forced to demolish the Taylor Building at the northeast corner of Poplar Street and Main Avenue and city officials currently are deciding what to do with the vacant Ohio Building on Ohio Avenue.
The writer may be contacted at 937-538-4823 and on Twitter @MikeSeffrinSDN.