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Historic Herring Building getting new life

KINGWOOD — Work on the 107-year-old historic Herring Building, 101 S. Price Street in Kingwood, is in progress.

The building was constructed on the site of the old John H. Brown store and opened as the Herring Store Aug. 1, 1914. The cost of the construction was $20,000, according to W.G. Williams’ book, “Indians and the First 150 Years.”

Lovonza Hairston purchased the building when it was auctioned Oct. 25, 2016. She said the first floor of the building is complete and ready for occupation.  Hairston said she wants to open the first floor up for businesses and turn the second and third floors into apartments.

She said later she might consider opening the basement up for parking — if it is deemed structurally sound to do so. 

The Herring Building has three floors (four if you count the basement); each level contains 5,400 square feet of space. It’s the largest building on Price Street.

According to Williams’ book, in 1919, it housed the Kingwood Drug Store. The drug store moved into the room that previously held the Kingwood Pool Parlor. In April 1920, Herring sold his interest in the building to Frank Van Newkirk.

Williams wrote that the two upper floors were damaged by fire Jan. 16, 1921. Water to put out the fire was carried by buckets from the Kingwood well.

In 1934, Dr. Wayne Schwab opened his pharmacy on one side of the building, and the Half Price, or H-P, store used the other room. Schwab bought the building in 1947 and moved his pharmacy into the larger room.

In September 1947, the A&P Store moved into the room previously occupied by the drug store.

In 1965, a Western Auto store opened in the smaller room after the A&P moved out. In 1972, pharmacist James Mauro bought Schwab’s Drug Store. Dr. P. E. Kercheval had his dental office on the second floor of the building and Haymond Garner’s photo shop was also on that floor. The third floor housed the Lodge Hall.

Hairston said the section of the building that once housed the Half Price Store has been rented and a new business will be opening soon.  She declined giving the name of the business.

Hairston said Blueprint Community Committee members connected her with the Appalachian Resource Group, which provides grants for small businesses.

“Money from the grant will help me write up an initial plan for visibility and floor plans,” Hairston said. “I am researching for other grants. The Blueprint group said this is something Kingwood needs — new businesses and apartments for rent is good for the city and for business.”

“I’m glad we were able to find her some resources for two reasons,” Michelle Whetsel, who is a member of the Blueprint Community Committee said. “It helps the community and it helps the owners of the building.”