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The future of Lebanon Square Part 3: Making the Arcade the city's heartbeat
Sep 27, 2012 12:00 am
It's been tucked into a corner of the Lebanon Square for decades with few people even remembering its existence, but the Arcade will soon make a comeback thanks to the vision of Hal Bone of Horizon Construction and Development and architect Mike Manous of Manous Design.
The Arcade, circa 1909, used to be the hub of downtown Lebanon and, if Manous and Bone succeed, it will be again. The two-story Arcade's original look and feel is slowly being uncovered and revived as workers remove layers of renovations to reveal the historic beauty of the place. With the entrance arch uncovered, it's already like walking into a tunnel to the past.
Manous and company have ambitious plans for the location, including a restaurant.
"It will be a mixed-use, multi-tenant building," he said. "We're hoping to land a restaurant as the anchor. There will be several retail opportunities on the ground floor, and the upper level the building has the old banquet facility still intact. It seats between 120-150, and we're hoping to use that as a draw for our restaurant candidate."
Back in the day, the Arcade was the only game in town for large groups, and it offers enough space to lure a sizable restaurant, something the square lacks. He is also hoping that more than one restaurant could be included in the plans.
"Until the 1950s, our banquet room in the Arcade was the largest public meeting space in Lebanon. It housed most of the civic organizations, the Lions, the Rotary, etc.," he said. "It's still intact, and we have a lot of artifacts dating back to various periods in history from those civic organizations, which will be proudly displayed there. Upstairs there will be the upper level of the restaurant and extra office space. I'm hoping to move my studio there as well."
As an architect, Manous' love of the design of the century-old structure is clear. He sounds thrilled to uncover the original features of the building and offended that the classic architecture was abused.
"It's beautiful; they just finished the storefront and most all the demolition work has been done inside,' Manous said. "It's hard to tell the dates, but through the succession of owners, all kinds of modification were made that are not original."
He is on a mission to bring it back to it's original charm and character.
"We're taking it all the way back, and you can still see clues in the bones of the building of what it used to be," Manous said. "We've stripped everything that didn't belong, and we're starting to build back now based on the original plan of the building."
He realizes old buildings have something that money can't buy or reproduce - history.
Builders, including myself, construct new retail space and we chew up raw land to try to recreate what we've already got," he said, noting the new area of Providence in Mt. Juliet where builders are trying create the old fashioned streetscape feel of the past. "They're trying to recreate what we've got on our Square."
As the project moves forward, Manous is making plans to get the Arcade shops filled, to make it once again the thriving heart of the Lebanon Square.
"We're going to be putting some renderings in the next few days in the front windows of the building and we're going to start accepting lease applications," he noted. "If a restauranteur is willing to sign a pre-lease and allow us to publicize that, we could be ready for occupancy by the summer of 2013."
With the uncovered entry arch inviting passersby to enter, it's like a portal into the past
"With the interior that has been done, it's just magnificent with the skylights and the old cast iron trusses," Manous concluded. "You can't fake the past."
Staff writer Mary Hinds may be reached at 444-3952, ext. 45 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.