Huron Plainman | Using Huron’s past to fuel the future

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HURON – While some people take on a major building restoration and move forward, Jeff Pownell is taking a different route. He has now started three restoration projects in downtown Huron, bringing three once-inactive storefronts to life.

It’s not hard to hear the passion for downtown Huron and the history in Pownell’s voice from the start of a conversation.

“Downtown Huron is full of opportunities just waiting for someone to jump on them,” Pownell said opening the discussion with The man of the plains.

“The research and the story is something that I find exciting,” Pownell continued. “How can I take the original intent and purpose of the building and make it economically viable for today?”

Pownell’s original project was the POP Ice Cream Shop, in the building that once housed the Habicht & Habicht department store at 274 Dakota Ave. S. Lui and his wife Yendy Castillo used grants from the Deadwood Fund to restore what was once an elaborate store.

“The quality of the Habichts building far exceeded anything built in South Dakota at that time,” noted Pownell, explaining that the building’s concrete and marble elements exceeded typical construction at that time. “The Habichts building was constructed with electrical conduit, which is common in modern construction, but in the 1930s it was certainly one of the first commercial buildings with this feature.”

The building is now listed on the National Register or Historic Places by the United States Department of the Interior, the only commercial building in downtown Huron listed on the register.

The former Huron Hotel, center, with facade work completed.

After the multi-year process of renovating and eventually opening the POP, the Pownells moved to 145 Dakota Ave. S., a former hotel in Huron that was originally built in 1909 as a hotel and cafe and operated for many years as the Huron Hotel.

Jeff explained that the facade work on the old hotel building was made possible through the Greater Huron Development Corporation (GHDC) facade grant program. However, once this work was completed, the works blocked the progress of the second floor/residential part of the project.

“Originally, it was 17 individual hotel rooms. Each of these rooms did not have an individual bathroom,” Pownell explained. “The challenge is: how to take 17 non-modern rooms that don’t meet today’s expectation standards and turn them into four livable residential applications that would meet the standards of what people want without losing the character of this building. of origin? ”

He mentioned the central upstairs hallway as one of the main reasons for retaining the “original” feel in the residential space.

However, Pownell said the focus on the hotel property was to finish the exterior of the building and make it attractive by restoring the facade, glass and street-side doors, the elements on which it stood. is focused through the GHDC grant.

So what should a motivated restaurateur do when they’re stalled on a project?

Find another!

The Pownells’ most recent project is the restoration of the former Lyric Theater and then the retail space that was originally Brown’s Shoe Fit, although many will recall that it recently housed the Champs Sports branch. from the Osborn clothing store at 328 Dakota Ave. S. The building was originally constructed in the 1920s.

“It was built by FCW Kuehn, the same architect who did Habicht’s building, so I knew the quality would be good,” Pownell said. “Inside the building, I had a really good idea of ​​what was there compared to what was there originally, so it was easy to start inside.”

Pownell focused on the interior of the property on the main level, also mentioning that the interior could be made publicly viable the soonest. Now that the main level retail is full, he and his wife can spend more time renovating the apartment above the commercial space and preparing for the next stage of the restoration of this space. , facade works.


The interior at 328 Dakota Ave. S., now Billy Bob’s Treasures. The right wall houses several small businesses that have small shops within the store.

So far, work inside this location has given several town businesses a new home in downtown Huron. Billy Bob’s Treasure Chest, owned and operated by Dennis Streyle, has established a home base in the store front.

Streyle has also used the space to give several small businesses an opportunity for downtown retail space. He has sublet several locations in the store on the south wall for small businesses that otherwise might not have the inventory to justify their own space downtown.

As part of plans to renew some of the storefront history at this location, Pownell is now reviewing the work of ISG in Sioux Falls, which has been hired by GHDC to review downtown businesses for business owners and come up with ideas for improvements on the building that could spruce up the building.

GHDC CEO/Chairman Ted Haeder explained that the ISG assessments have pushed for improvements and could continue to improve the downtown area even further.

“The tests that we’ve completed right now, I think we’re going to see more demand for the program,” Haeder said. “We’ve done about two dozen building assessments now.”

Pownell circled his latest project and showed the original plans for the Lyric Theater with the passion that is typical of him whenever he discusses downtown Huron or restoring history.

While reviewing ISG’s options, he will make choices to add character and life to another building in downtown Huron.

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