Hester Store added to national registry

DACUSVILLE — Since 1893, the Old Hester Store has stood against the backdrop of the Blue Ridge Mountains and Table Rock in Dacusville.

As the story goes, Mr. William Hester accidentally signed the property title over to a neighbor shortly before his death in 1981. The building remained in limbo and without care for nearly 30 years, subject to fire, termite and structural damage. Eventually the title made its way into the hands of local developers in 2008, who in turn released control of the property to the Palmetto Trust for Historic Preservation and Pickens County Historical Society.

Falcone Crawlspace & Structural Repair purchased the building from the Palmetto Trust in December 2011 as a show space for how exactly they can rehabilitate buildings suffering from structural damage.

Mike Bedenbaugh, Executive Director of the Palmetto Trust for Historic Preservation, played the crucial role of matchmaker in this building’s budding fairy tale and subsequent happy ending, and the success story will grow even more on June 21, as the old store joins the National Register of Historic Places.

“We as a statewide non-profit are tasked to do everything we can to save as much as we can,” Bedenbaugh said. “When this building came on our radar, things came together, and the stars aligned. … This is one of our biggest success stories.”

“The sale listing for Hester Store mentioned structural issues, including severe termite damage,” remembered Melissa Falcone, co-owner of Falcone Crawlspace & Structural Repair. “From the moment I saw it, I knew our team, led by my husband Fred, was up for the challenge. Our 25-person structural repair company replaces more rotted beam than any other company in the Carolinas, so I knew this was the perfect building for us.

“Buying this building gives us a chance to demonstrate our capabilities and lets us truly immerse ourselves in a new community as we expand the reach of our business.”

For Falcone, the space was never intended to be “just” an office or showroom.

With utmost respect for its storied past, she worked through hundreds of pages of paperwork to help the Old Hester Store gain entrance to the National Register of Historic Places — a process that took a year to complete.

It’s no secret that the community of Dacusville is entirely behind the building’s new lease in life. Hester Store’s Facebook Fan Page has 800 “likes” and features followers’ favorite memories and hopes for the future.

“We have been a conduit for (the Falcone team) to become a part of the Dacusville community, part of the fabric of Dacusville,” Ronny Hall, President of the Dacusville Business Association and active officer in the Pickens County Historical Society, said.

The site is the first in town to appear on the National Register, and Hall could not be more pleased.

“It speaks to the beauty of our heritage and the values that we cherish,” he said when asked about the momentous occasion. “We know that due to the National Register of Historic Places, the building will be put back to its original form.”

June 21 will mark the official plaque reveal as the store joins the elite ranks on the National Register. The occasion will be celebrated with a 10 a.m. ceremony at the Hester Store site. Falcone, Hall and Bedenbaugh will all say a few words prior to the plaque reveal. Local elected officials and leadership from the Pickens County Historical Society and Dacusville Business association will be in attendance.

As for the future of the Hester Store, plans currently include a separate office space on the property and retail operations on the first floor of the store. Falcone will maintain a local presence as it continues to expand throughout the Carolinas and Georgia.

“(We are) excited to set aside a day for us all to celebrate this building and the victory for Dacusville,” Falcone said. “This building wasn’t just saved from demolition — now the National Register has acknowledged its social and architectural significance. It’s worth celebrating. Instead of just hanging the plaque on our own, we wanted to invite the community to be a part of this, since it’s their landmark.”