With the opening of new businesses, a growing arts and entertainment scene, and a recent celebration that brought thousands of people to the city center, downtown Sanford is having a renaissance.
Another aspect of that boom is the renovation and repurposing of historic buildings. The most visible example is the old Buggy Factory building, which in a few short years has gone from an empty, aging hull to a hub of local government (and which has won awards in the process).
Might another similar building just a block away from the Buggy Factory be the next example of that kind of repurposing? That’s what April and David Montgomery, who recently purchased the building at 201 Chatham St., are hoping.
“I moved to my office (on Chatham Street) in 2015, and I had one employee,” said April Montgomery, who has a renewable energy and preservation consulting firm in Sanford. “Now I have five, and we needed more space.”
That’s what made her notice the Lutterloh building across the street from her current office.
Built in 1908 as a medical practice for Dr. I.H. Lutterloh (he first opened in 1893 at another nearby location), it has served over the years as a bank, a pharmacy and even a hotel. The Montgomerys purchased it this month from Progressive Development Company, which had been renting some of the space commercially. But a large majority of the building has been unused for purposes other than storage for several years.
Now, the Montgomerys’ long term plan is to move her office into the ground floor of the building and also make several other spaces available as retail outlets. Upstairs, there will be six apartments. An additional apartment will exist on the backside of the ground floor, and there is a basement level which could serve a number of purposes as well. Re-branding it “the Lutterloh,” the Montgomerys have launched a Facebook page complete with both historical photos and renderings of what they plan to do with the building.
April Montgomery said the spate of improvements to downtown played a role in the couple’s decision to move forward at this time with this property.
“We’re finally seeing a lot of things happen with downtown that have been in the works for a long time,” she said. “And private investment follows public investment. People want to see a community that’s willing to invest in itself.”
It’s only been a few short weeks since the Montgomerys closed on the building, and there’s a huge amount of work to be done. So this corner of downtown might not get its facelift overnight – April Montgomery said they plan to do with the work in stages, with the upstairs apartments being first – changes are coming. Could those changes be a sign of what’s to come for more of downtown? Time will tell, but one way or the other, the Lutterloh will now be a part of Sanford’s future in the same way its been a part of Sanford’s past.