St. Albans businessman offers building space for gallery, entertainment
When businessman Frank McCormick saw the building at 63 Olde Main Plaza in St. Albans, he knew he had found a new home for his company, Multiple Ventilation Products.
Built in 1908 as the Herbert Music Company, the building, next to the Alban Arts Center, has a strong presence on Olde Main Plaza. McCormick saw the potential and decided to move Multiple Ventilation Products from Bigley Avenue in Charleston to St. Albans.
“We’ve been here (in St. Albans) since 2015,” McCormick said. “We’ve been in business 26 years.”
Multiple Ventilation Products occupies the second floor of the building, but McCormick has turned the first floor into a gallery, reception and entertainment space. It was a focal point for the recent Arti Gras Main Street Masquerade fundraiser for the upcoming ArtiGras Art Around Town event on Sept. 30.
“We’re trying to enhance some of the community events as much as possible. For the ArtiGras, we’ve been working with the folks at the Alban. So far, we’ve had two or three events on their behalf,” McCormick said.
His building was also a hub of activity during last May’s Founder’s Day events.
McCormick has dubbed the first-floor space as 63 Olde Main Gallery, or “63 OMG.”
“The upstairs is strictly offices,” he said.
The Main Street Masquerade event had a great turnout, McCormick said. Artworks were donated, and many of the art pieces were won during a silent auction.
There’s exhibit space inside on the first floor, and in the front of the building facing Olde Main, there is a space suitable for live musicians and other entertainers to perform.
“We want the whole street to be engaged.”
The ArtiGras on Sept. 30 starts at 4 p.m. and will have something for everyone. Artists and multiple vendors will have their work on display during the street festival that takes place all along Olde Main.
“We’re creating a little VIP lounge for the volunteers; we’ll have some appetizers and refreshments,” he said.
McCormick said he would eventually be open to renting 63 Olde Main Gallery to organizations needing a venue for an event. Right now, though, 63 Olde Main Gallery is serving as focal point to help bring a larger audience to Olde Main Plaza.
McCormick found the building by accident. He and his wife were shopping for furniture at Colonial Interiors, also on Olde Main Plaza, when he first saw the building that would become home to Multiple Ventilation Products.
“We’d been looking for a new building for two or three years. I liked the look of it, and I liked the feel of it. I saw the potential that we had. We’ve tried to stay historically accurate. We totally replaced the front of the building. It looks the way it was based on who renovated it last. I had to put a little bit of money into it, but, to me, it was worth it to bring back around.”
According to Neil Richardson, president of the St. Albans Historical Society, the two-story building’s facade was remodeled in about 1980 and again in the late 1990s. At that time, it was gutted inside and reused for various businesses.
“A 1908 postcard shows a balcony much like the present one. Although modified, it is one of the original buildings built after the 1906 fire,” Richardson said.
“The whole downtown area burned to the ground — I’ve got pictures of just telephone poles standing, and that’s it,” McCormick said.
As a nod to the building’s original appearance, McCormick added custom-made, wrought-iron hand railings in front.
“We tried to stay true to that period of time.”
McCormick said many people don’t take the time to appreciate the beautiful architecture that can be found on Olde Main Plaza. He hopes his building will help draw some newcomers to the street.
“My feeling is, that if can get them coming in this direction, they’re going to see some of the potential of some of these other buildings, and, hopefully, we’ll get some more occupants. The buildings here are diamonds in the rough,” he said.
McCormick has established a Facebook page for 63 Olde Main Gallery.
“Our goal at 63 OMG-Olde Main Gallery, is to provide a venue in which artists of all forms can gravitate to and share in the fun and rewards of entertaining. We will use our facilities as much as possible to participate and enhance events of the St. Albans community.”