Nacogdoches shows off 2nd story life

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Red brick streets create the charm for Main Street, Nacogdoches, but Saturday visitors climbed the stairs to see what's above. Tenants opened their offices, even their homes to guests curious about where they live and work.

It's the 2nd Story Tour, a popular event sponsored each year by the Main Street Program in Nacogdoches. It's goal is to show the varied uses of downtown and encourage property owners to consider renovating an entire building, rather than just the first floor.

Hundreds of thousands of dollars can be spent renovating old downtown buildings. No longer does the pay back come from just the street level.

"Mixed use development has become an essential economic development for downtown development," said Sarah O'Brien, Main Street director in Nacogdoches. "It's a growing trend that allows business owners to get a return on the entire building."

Just ask John Branch. The downtown resident gets the feeling friends are trying to get him to move out of town.

"I've got a list of everybody who wants to move in here," said Branch. He lives in what used to be a Beall's Department store.

Branch is on the road with university sport's teams. A downtown residence is perfect for his busy lifestyle. "No yard up keep at all. When you leave, you lock the door and leave. There's nothing to tend to outside. You do miss having a patio from time to time."

He and other downtown residents also had to get used to an unconventional alarm clock. "Every morning at 7 a.m. Sharp the firefighters at the downtown fire station tests the sirens on the trucks. Then there's always those middle of the night calls they get. At first, I jumped up out of bed. Now, I barely notice them," said Branch.

Interior designer Tania Watson puts her creative juices to work in an upstairs office nook.

"The building had been gutted because they believed there was asbestos in the building and then they found there wasn't, so it was pretty much a shell," said Watson.

She now has it tastefully decorated, using a lot of exposed brick.

Buildings can date back to the turn of the century, meaning they come with interesting stories.

"It's a property line that runs down the middle of the hallway," said Marilyn Gruebel of her downtown office complex. "The Weeks and the Hardemans were friends back in 1907 when they built this office."

Now Gruebel and her husband have a successful working relationship with their next door neighbors.

So the next time you visit Main Street USA remember look down the street, but also look up.

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