Restoration resumes on historic downtown building

Lazaro Aleman
ECB Publishing, Inc.

After a lengthy hiatus, the renovation/restoration of a historic building in downtown Monticello that once housed a popular restaurant is moving forward again.
Anyone who has been on Dogwood Street of late has no doubt noticed the renewed activity on the corner of Jefferson Street, complete with workmen, newly constructed wood-framed exterior entrances, and a pile of sand on the street outside the building.
Byron Arceneaux, who owns the historic building with his wife Michelle, gave city officials a heads-up on the coming construction activity at the Monticello City Council meeting on Tuesday evening, May 7.
Arceneaux told the council that the plan was to pour a concrete floor in the building and asked city officials for their patience and understanding. He said the work would temporarily disrupt the street for a few days but it couldn't be helped.
“Dirt has to be brought in,” Arceneaux said. “We will have to use some of the parking spaces on Dogwood Street to dump the dirt on. I have already talked to some of the merchants.”
He said the construction work should take between 7-10 days. Which work, he said, would also entail restoring the the building's two Dogwood Street entrances to their original recessed style, so as to give the structure a more vintage look.
The two-story building has been vacant and without a floor for years, the doings of a former owner who had grandiose ideas of remodeling the structure and began by tearing out the floor and knocking down the interior walls, only to have his money run out.
The Arceneauxs have owned the building for several years now and have been engaged in a slow but methodical renovation/restoration of the structure. As Michelle told the council last year, the two are doing the work as the money allows, as they don't want to get into debt.
Past improvements that the Arceneauxs have undertaken to refurbish the building include removing the stucco from the facade; cleaning and repairing or replacing damaged or missing bricks; and grouting the exterior walls wherever the mortar was missing.
The Arceneauxs also had the upstairs windows replaced with ones of a style more in keeping with the building's earlier appearance and had the original wood doors on the west side of the building refinished. All work has received the prior approval of the Monticello Historic Design Review Board.
As to what the building may house once the renovation/restoration work is completed, only the Arceneauxs know. Speculation is that it could be anything from a microbrewery to a restaurant to a retail shop or to anyone's guess.