Makers mark on historic building
When Raffaele Colone eyed a run down Williamsport building, he didn’t focus on its dilapidated state or the fact that it had been on the market for 650 days. All he saw was potential.
After climbing into the rafters of the building at 200 East Church Street during a walk-through, Colone knew he had found his new furniture showroom.
“The beams are 75-feet wide and made out of 12x12s that were hand hewn,”Colone said. Being a man who works with wood for a living, he could not resist those trusses.
Colone’s Woodrich business is well known for its urban tree slab furniture that is sold throughout the United States. Using wood from trees that are dead or diseased, Colone repurposes the wood into bespoke pieces of furniture that are works of art.
“I not only like giving trees new life, but buildings a new life as well,” said the furniture maker.
Gratefully, the historic building fell into the hands of a dedicated steward. Built circa 1910, it was formerly home to the Sherman Coca-Cola Bottling Works. It’s origins were uncertain so Colone headed to the Thomas T. Taber Museum to research it.
“I found an original picture of it. That was the best gift ever,” explained Colone. “And I found bottles in the attic of the building.”
Renovations to the 8,500-square-foot building started with removal of the drop ceilings.
“You couldn’t see the beams and the roof was caved in,” said Colone, who sandblasted the hemlock tresses. Additional renovations include new lighting, flooring and sidewalks.
Untouched were the aged glass windows because Colone loved their patina. What resulted is an airy, light-filled showroom where Colone’s furniture fits harmoniously with the space.
“The building is industrial with a contemporary feel,” said Colone. The first floor looks like an chic urban restaurant with numerous hand-made dining tables running the length of the room. During a PM Exchange in January, the room actually performed as an eatery with people dining on Herman and Luther’s fare.
Throughout the space, Coca-Cola mementos punctuate the building without overwhelming it and the piece de resistance is the outdoor sign that was hand-painted by Dave Geise from the Sign Shop.
Two architectural additions to the building include Colone’s hand-carved stairs that lead to the second story and an oversized black garage door that dominates the front of the structure.
Colone is proud of the sweat equity he poured into the Coca-Cola building and plans on rehabilitating more downtown buildings.
“I saved it because it’s a piece of history in the town and that’s cool for the town. It makes me sad when they tear down old buildings. I love repurposing.”