Outstanding Architectural Restoration or Contribution to the Community Award Winners

High Restaurant

 

2010 award winner

2010 award winner

The Knox County Renaissance Foundation awarded Korby Bricker the 2012 Award for Outstanding Architectural Restoration or Contribution to the Community for the restoration of the landmark High Restaurant at the northwest corner of Public Square.  Mr. Bricker is the restaurant’s seventh owner since 1938 when the former pharmacy space was changed to a restaurant by Mr. Chris Rezos. Sometime in the late 1960‘s it was passed down to his nephew Nick Rezos also from Athens, Greece. It was later run by Jimmy “The Greek” Harrison, as much of the town remembers.

Built in 1908 by James Israel, the President of the Mount Vernon Bridge Company, the building was named after General Goshorn A. Jones, his father-in-law, who served in the Civil War. The Israel family lived at 105 East Gambier Street. Mr. Israel adorned the building with metal cornices and decorative diamond pattern brick work.

Covered for decades, the embossed tin ceiling and the mosaic tiled floor have been revealed and patiently restored. Mr. Bricker’s vision has been faithful to the 1930’s origin and design of the restaurant.

The ceiling had to  be “undropped”, hand chipped of the old paint, repainted, and period fixtures and fans installed. The floor, after stripping off two layers of carpet, had to be removed of the remaining glues, the tiles cleaned and replaced as necessary. The walls were stripped of the paneling, replastered and painted a light new color. The booths were reconstructed in the light colored wood typical of the 1930’s matching the paneling in the front around the windows. The stainless steel Art Deco grill splash work from the original restaurant was removed, cleaned and then reinstalled.  The kitchen was remodeled and updated.

An oak stairway going up to the second and third floors was built, and renovations are underway on the third floor which has a maple floor.  After gutting it, one of  the second floor apartments was completely remodeled.

The exterior has a “new” look as well in that the doors on the east face of the building have been revealed. Covered by paneling for decades, they were also obscured by  a grease trap on the street that is now gone. The glass French doors allow more light into the interior.

It took 11 months for Mr. Bricker, with the help of a couple of close friends, to complete the restoration.

In 2013 Mr. Bricker sold the restaurant to the R & M Restaurant which has opened it up as a Greek restaurant in keeping with its history.

On December 16, 2008 a fire consumed the entire second floor and seriously damaged the first floor of the Young House, an impressive 1840’s Greek Revival home at 112 East Gambier Street. The builder, Mr. Young, was a jeweler and distributor of gold jewelry. The fire was an event that could have been disastrous for the Gambier Street Historic District. It was a “no-brainer” decision of Wayne Gottke, the son-in-law of Gordon DeHaan who has owned the building since 1996, to restore it to its original form. In appreciation of this decision and effort, the Knox County Renaissance Foundation has chosen the family for the 2010 Award for Outstanding Architectural Restoration or Contribution to the Community. KCRF is instituting this award to bring a greater awareness to the community of the importance to decide to restore rather than to tear down buildings with architectural or historic merit. Too often in the past the ‘bottom line’ leaves out the impact of mediocre new buildings being erected in sensitive areas.

Wayne Gottke was given the final say on what to do with the building and for him there was no question that the only thing to do was to bring it back and improve it as well. There were a few layout changes in the five apartments to improve the flow, but other than updating all the mechanicals and drywall, the building is essentially the same. All the fireplaces are original and many of the doors and window frames on the first floor were saved and redone. Capitol Reconstruction in Lewis Center, Ohio did the work in 13 months.

Wayne thanks the community for their patience with the work, noise, and other inconveniences that they had during the construction and appreciates all the offers of support he received. People stopped by and spoke of their connection to the building. It was turned into apartments in the 1940’s. One couple who had never been in Mount Vernon and were on a search for the building told the story of their grandfather, attorney Horace Greer, who had owned the building from the 1890’s to 1922. He had lost correspondence from US presidents in a previous fire in the rear of the east wing. Evidence of that fire was uncovered during the reconstruction. Rita Durbin stopped by with a picture of the building she took in 1951 on the last day of winter when there was a snow storm. She had been renting one of the apartments from Mrs. Barr.

During the reconstruction the history of eight changes to the building was uncovered. There is evidence of a two story brick structure being incorporated into the main building on the east side. The east wing was added in the 1850’s and the west wing in the 1890’s. Window hinges in the west wing are stamped with the date 1898.

The public is encouraged to submit names for future consideration. Please contact us through email in our contact information.

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