The Paris Wincey Mills Co.

wall, and vintage elevator slat doors that are folded back on a track during the day and closed at night for security. My office doubles as a storefront, selling the work of local artisans, and Paris WinceyMills Co. branded merchandise. The original 19th-century logo is used in all our marketing to respect the great past of this building.And we’re constantly adding exclusive products to promote the brand in the com- munity and beyond to tourists.” Stories to Tell The temptation in these old factories is to drywall over everything and start fresh. But the WinceyMills chose a dif- ferent route.They cleaned and sealed the bricks, but left the distressed paint finishes intact– along with old notes and auto- graphs people had written on the interior walls and structure through the decades.They were preserved under a clear coat for posterity, and make great con- versation starters. KathyWard from Broken Arrow,Oklahoma, recalls a story her father told her fromwhen he began working at the WinceyMills in 1958, at the age of 15.“He was given a bucket and told to fetch a bucket of steam.His official title was “Steam Collector”.After a few minutes of searching for steam and receiving laughter from those he asked, he soon realized that this was a joke; an EXECUTIVE VIEW initiation so-to-speak that was commonly done to new employees at the WinceyMill.” I wonder if he signed the wall? Where once huge windows had been blocked in over the years, the designers approached the local museum for historical images of the town they could reproduce to cover the setbacks.These floor-to-ceiling sepia photographs now have pride of place in the market hall. Purchase and renovations of the WinceyMills property,which officially opened in May 2016, came in around $3 million. Restoration can be a pricey undertaking, and a daunting prospect to consider in budget deliberations.However, as Van Brugge says,“While renovating a building such as the WinceyMills ends up costing more than building new, the character and ambiance can’t me matched by new construction. The ‘old building’ really seems to bring the people in.” If your community is debating whether to repurpose built-heritage assets, Tausney relates a story that sums it up beautifully. “It was after the Remembrance Day ceremony at the ceno- taph. The market hall was filling up with people, and an old guy– a war veteran proudly wearing his medals – came in and found a seat. A young boy, maybe seven years old, sat down beside him. They’d never met, but soon starting chat- ting about chess. They’d found common ground, even making plans to get together sometime for a chess match.We’re even thinking of adding chess and checkers tables. This is what it’s all about. A familiar space with a rich past, where locals and visitors can meet, shop, learn, work, and share.” Once a workforce gathering place, the Paris Wincey Mills is a bustling community hub once again. Still contributing to the town coffers, still a hive of downtown activity, this architectural legacy has a wealth of stories to tell.