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Thursday, Dec. 25, 2014

Shelbyville square undergoes a renaissance

Thursday, August 10, 2006

General Contractor Tommy Woodard (left) is shown by artist Jerry Ward how he wants support rods placed at the front door to his home and office on the south side of the Shelbyville public square.
(T-G Photo by Clint Confehr)
From franchise headquarters to women's dress shoppes, Shelbyville's public square continues to develop toward the uptown place the merchants' Our Town group has envisioned over the years.

Some of the changes are as obvious as the new signs on the east side announcing the Purple Turtle Children's Boutique that Laura Bennett has moved from Tullahoma. Others are as invisible as Little Caesar's office plan.

"Shelbyville is a place where we want to put a pizza restaurant," says Patrick "Pat" McMillan of Murfreesboro who bought the building at 117 E. Depot St., where Drake's Signs & Graphics moved to from downtown Wartrace to McMillan's building.

McMillan moved to Tennessee a couple of years ago, opened a Little Caesar's restaurant in Murfreesboro and then one in Cool Springs. With a third planned here, he sees the off-square locale as the place for his headquarters.

He used to build golf courses across the country, but last night and tonight he and his wife, Connie, face work to renovate their building with new sheet rock, a utility room, a furnace and heat pump.

A common theme among such renovations is an apartment. Connie and Pat are making a place for his mother, Patricia -- another Pat McMillan. That's also the case on the south side of the square.

Jerry Ward and his mother, Mildred, moved into the building he had Tommy Woodard General Contractor reconstruct next to Bella Donna, the day spa and salon operated by Barrettea Price, whose shop is topped by a condominium for her mother, Vickey Johnson.

Meanwhile, another apartment is being renovated above the Coffee Shop which was briefly closed because of a leaky pipe during renovations. That will lead to resurfacing of the original floor boards.

Such change isn't coming without stress. At Ward's art studio, the concept just didn't fit the mold as contemplated by regulations at City Hall, Ward and Woodard explained yesterday.

His front door to the Square leads to a vestibule. To the right by the wall are stairs to his studio and art gallery. Between the stairs and the vestibule's sitting area is a door that lead to living quarters for Ward and his mother.

That's just the opposite of what's normally seen around courthouse squares. Usually, the residence is above the commercial area.

So, as Ward was in the midst of a $300,000 property improvement, there were recurring discussions with officials about what was being done, they said.

Yet, true to an artist's form, the different approach was and wasn't what it seemed.

"It's not a public business," Ward explained while standing next to his front door's name plate which spells it out: "By appointment only."

Ward is Bedford County's very own White House-approved artist, having painted George and Barbara Bush's English Springer Spaniel.

Two of his paintings can be seen in the Bedford County Courthouse. Others may be viewed by peeking through the window to the left of his front door.

Ward will continue to welcome teachers and their students for visits that include his discussions about different styles of painting, as he did during his residency on East Franklin Street, but he doesn't expect to sell portraits and other paintings to "walk-in traffic."

Meanwhile, a committee of more than a dozen close friends has scheduled a series of timed visits "for downtown family" on Friday, Ward said. While it's by invitation only, the artist repeats, he's glad to accept requests from teachers.

Doors that slide out from pockets in walls, a series of faux windows with lights and mirrors to provide the sense of outdoor light, clever cabinets and closets, a matching -- albeit mirror image -- staircase, and carpeting to expand a room are what visitors may admire at Ward's building.

Next door, Barrettea Price has added staff at Bella Donna: Sharon Gordon is the esthetician (skin care specialist); and Amber Carothers is the certified and licensed massage therapist.

Like other new businesses on and near the square, Price is wrestling with when to hold the perfectly-timed grand opening.

That's the case at JoJo's where the father of the shop's namesake was caught watching Scooby-Doo cartoons on Wednesday afternoon. He explains he was told by a customer's child that the cartoon tapes available were out of date, so he bought one suggested by the youngster and felt obliged to preview it for content.

Open since July 7, the shop has "a continual cycle" of merchandise, says JoJo, who's off to Ole Miss in about a week.

Bill Arquitt continues to restore the old bank building into a three-tiered family structure with a series of offices upstairs for him and a basement with plans that will be kept secret for the time being.

Around the east side of the square, Laura Bennett has opened the Purple Turtle Children's Boutique, which she's moved here from Tullahoma where she ran her shop for about a year.

Why move?

"Our best customers are from Shelbyville," Bennett said.

Her clothing is sized for children from infancy to those in their tweens.

Nancy June Brandon's Dancy's studio remains at its familiar location, but its retail products have been moved from where the Purple Turtle is now.

Meanwhile J. Jordan's successful year has led to her move from rented, to purchased space, but just southward on the east side of Shelbyville's public square.

Her experience with a couple of big department stores and business experience as an accountant for a box home improvement store have apparently served her well.

Her retail floor space has virtually doubled and her merchandise continues to come as a result of her selections from her special suppliers.

As retail continues to change the face of the square, there are office building changes as well.

"We hope to be open in 30 days," says attorney John T. Boo about his firm's move for its real estate services from upstairs at the bank building on the west side of the square to a store front office.

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