At long last, the city’s first full-size replica of a historic building is under way.
Tim Trier, the owner of Clinton’s Ditch, got permission six years ago to knock down the deteriorating firehouse next door to his restaurant and bar. At the time, he promised that he would replace it with as perfect a replica as possible.
But the lot remained empty, year after year.
Some historic preservationists began to worry, questioning whether Trier had knocked down the building for parking instead. Originally, he had wanted to use the space for parking.
But Trier kept saying he would build it when the time was right.
At first he said he wouldn’t build in summer because the construction could interfere with the outdoor patio. But this summer work started anyway.
Trier said he’s ready for the construction to be over but he’s thrilled to see his plans finally taking shape. The exterior, based on measurements and pictures taken before the firehouse was demolished, is designed to look just like the original building.
“I am excited. Just to have more room come wintertime,” he said. “It’s just a little cramped. We don’t feel it as much in the summer because we have the patio.”
The building looks like a firehouse, but the first floor will link up with Clinton’s Ditch, creating one building. The upper floor will only be accessible from the firehouse side.
When the plans were first written, Trier planned to add a kitchen in the new building. But he ended up expanding Clinton’s Ditch toward the rear for more kitchen space last year.
“So we didn’t need to expand the kitchen again,” he said.
That means the entire space will be available for seating.
Trier will also now be able to host handicap-accessible parties. The few stairs up to Clinton’s Ditch were too much for many potential customers, he said.
“There was always one member of the party who couldn’t do the stairs, so those were parties I couldn’t take,” he said.
The firehouse side is accessible without stairs. The entire garage door opens up — just like a firehouse door — to reveal the seating area.
The building will be done by mid-October, Trier said.