Electric Map and Hanover History
Scott Roland has appeared to pull off the impossible – get a TV station to come to Hanover twice in one week.
Channel 8 actually made it here three times, once to the town hall, once for a story on the State Theatre and a third time for the story on Scott’s latest purchase. As expected, only shiny objects attract the TV crews, which is a shame because the addition of the Electric Map to the Hanover Conference and Heritage Center project is just one piece of the history I saw while touring the old Wachovia Bank and Young Manor before this news broke.
While we looked at old bank ledgers and receipts and disaster supplies – the basement of the bank was a bomb shelter and no one removed the commode kits, water jugs and food stocks when the bank closed a few years back – Scott repeatedly talked about how someone with a keen interest in history could have a field day with all the things left behind.
I flipped through books which seemed to keep an account of investments by Laurence Sheppard years ago. Shelves held paperwork from some business the bank did in its earlier incarnations with customers in Erie. A bunch of Hanover history awaits the right person.
But that paled in comparison to my trip through Young Manor a month or so ago. First off, the plans for the offices should excite people who want more buzz downtown. The location has tons of character and potential with so many touches of the earlier tenants still included in the renovation. I’m not shilling for Scott, but people have the chance to occupy an office in the only downtown location with a yard – including an awesome back yard which could turn into much, much more – and its own parking.
In the process of going through the building, however, Scott has found more than a place with nice office layouts. The basement vault still has papers indicating what went where when Hanover Shoe occupied the building. (Oh, if you need a guy to pass an opinion or come up with a use for your vault, Scott can do it – he now owns more vaults per square foot than pretty much anyone.)
Up in the attic, I found a small advertising stand for Hanover Shoe from the 1940s. You never knew where you might find papers, books or even old blueprints for the building. The entryway has two display cases which Scott has already filled with items representing the Young family and Hanover Shoe/Hanover Shoe Farms.
My favorite item was the piece of wood from a staircase removed for the renovation. Scott showed me the name and date which a worker put on the piece dating back to the original 1896 construction on the site. That was very cool.
Besides the historical connections, I really like how these projects plan for multiple uses to take advantage of the locations. The Old Post Office is a perfect example of how you can retain the character of a building and turn it into something new. Scott showed me some of the changes they made there before we moved onto other buildings.
I just hope this excitement spreads to others. Like I wrote the other day about the theatre project on Frederick Street – simply turning something into what it used to be might not always make sense. Maybe that could be a small performance venue with shops and studio space for artists. Maybe some of this great Hanover history could end up in a small location there to show people the town is more than a pass through on the Civil War history trail.
I have always had excitement for downtown because I think the “there are tons of boarded up shops and nothing to do” crowd is sadly mistaken and all we needed was one new project, one new event to stimulate the next big thing. I’m not a big Civil War fan, but maybe this is it. If so, let’s just hope people don’t just focus on the shiny thing like the TV stations do and see the many other great things out there.