Walking the fine line between being a history buff and a junk collector can come with endless possibilities. For the last eighteen months, Jim Batson, Owner of H.C. Blake Co. Inc., has been working to convert a 30,000 square foot, old shopping center into a new office for his family business. The family business has been up and running since 1884.
Since Batson’s family has been in Huntsville, Alabama for the last 135 years, they have been collecting treasures of the city’s past. H.C. Blake Co. Inc., opened their newly refurbished operations hub this month. Batson designed the offices to showcase the history of Huntsville by including the artifacts they have collected. “I have repurposed probably seventy percent of the stuff here,” said Batson.
Included in this revamped space are hundreds of odds and ends like brass fire sprinkler heads, boxes of old metal toothbrush holders, tin panels, awnings, and glass panels in two walls to give a sneak peek into the building’s plumbing area, which showcases the pipes and connectors signed by the employees of H.C. Blake Co. Inc., whom installed them. Old pipes were used to create wall beams. Batson mounted many objects in decorative displays on the dark wood wall and used old roofing tins to decorate the planter pictured. In addition to the ultra-modern offices that were created for the service and construction divisions of the family’s business, there are rooms available for the public’s use to host events such as reunions, etc.
The entire shopping complex received a renovation including new glass fronts, which are actually old glass that has been recycled. The L-shaped shopping center will also include a supply house, a store that specializes in water filtration, indoor air quality, smart home and ADA equipment. There will be an office space for the development organization of North Huntsville, an art gallery and a yoga studio that will be accessible to H.C. Blake’s 150+ employees. A museum and store will be added that focus on Huntsville’s history and two restaurants serving Cajun food and barbecue will join Meat-and-Three, Betty Mae’s and Kim’s Diner.
“I love refurbishing stuff that’s old and making it new. When I first bought this place, I wanted to make it look like downtown on the square. I love my hometown and preserving what city history I can. It’s about seeing the growth and watching the town flourish,” said Batson.
Excellent job to our member, H.C. Blake Co. Inc., on rebuilding your hometown, preserving the history of Huntsville and making old things new again!
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