ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
by Don Ratzlaff
The Free Press
Sometimes adding something new can transport you even further back in time. That’s been the case for Linden and Dorie Thiessen, who run the popular Olde Towne Restaurant & Bakery in downtown Hillsboro.
This fall, the couple-with the support of their landlord-added a wooden awning to the front of their historic building that closely resembles the original one that was attached to the building when it was built in 1887.
The original wooden awning was removed sometime after 1922 and was replaced with a roll-out awning for several years.
The stately stone structure was without an awning for several years until the Thiessens attached a canvas one over the entryway door after buying the restaurant in 1992.
When the canvas version began to wear out and needed to be replaced, the Thiessen saw the opportunity to fulfill a long-held desire.
“We’ve always wanted to to build a wooden one ever since we saw the picture of it,” Linden Thiessen said. “It looked neat.”
The photograph of the original awning hangs in the restaurant-along with a significant collection of other historical photos from Hillsboro’s past.
Beyond the aesthetic and historical appeal, Thiessen said the cost of building the wooden awning wasn’t much different than replacing the canvas one when he first priced it.
“It turned out to be more than we first thought, but it was worth it,” he said. “It will look good and has a 50-year warranty on it. It will last for a long time.”
The structure will eventually pay for itself, Thiessen added.
“I think we’ll gain from it because of utility savings when we try to cool (the restaurant) in the summer,” he said. “The awning shades all of our windows now. That should help our utility bills a lot.”
Even so, Thiessen said the project would not have been possible without the support of the building’s owner. He also appreciated the help of Vince Jantz Construction of Tampa, the contractor who designed and built the awning.
“I showed Vince a picture of it and told him I wanted it to look like that-except we didn’t add the intricate trim between the main pillars, and of course it doesn’t have the horse hitching posts either,” Thiessen said.
Construction on the project started soon after a summer-long renovation of Main Street and the downtown sidewalks by the city of Hillsboro.
Soon after the town celebrated the completion of the street project Sept. 5, construction began on the new awning. It was completed in time for Hillsboro’s Arts & Crafts Fair Sept. 20.
“I was glad we could it done right before the Arts & Crafts Fair,” Thiessen said. “Vince worked really well with me to get it done. I really appreciated that.”
The response of the community has been positive, Thiessen said.
“People say it looks great-they just love it,” he said. “I’ve had people come up to me on the street and say that. They meet me in another store and say, ‘Hey, you’re awning looks great.’ They’ve yelled at me from across the street, ‘Hey, it really looks good.’
“I haven’t heard anything negative from it.”
Thiessen said he’d like to see other downtown businesses add awnings.
“I think it helps the looks of Main Street,” Thiessen said. “It would be cool if we had a lot of awnings, but I know the cost is pretty restrictive.”