Candy factory renovations nearly finished

The heavy boots of workmen can still be heard walking the wooden floors of the former Hopkins Candy Factory in Old Town Manassas.

There is still some electric work left. Some tile work needs to be done at the front entrance.

For the most part, the city’s $2.3 million renovation of the building is now complete. Work is scheduled to finish by the end of the month.

Melinda Herzog, director of the Manassas Museum System, said state officials described the building as a triumph in restoration work after touring it last week.

“There were all these things they saw as great design. And it made them think it was a great example of something people should come and see,” she said.

The Virginia Department of Historic Resources officials, she said, believed a coat of blue paint would easily mask the air conditioning units on the roof, which drew criticism last month from the city’s Architectural Review Board, which argued that the metal units detracted from the building’s historic appearance.

Work on the building has proved a challenge for Herzog, who took over as museum system director in July 2001, only a month before renovations began.

While digging the building’s elevator shaft in November, workers for the project’s contractor, Manassas- and Culpeper-based Taft Construction, discovered artifacts from the Brenton Saloon, which burned down with much of the downtown in 1905.

The archeological find forced the contractor to work around an elevator shaft that was supposed to be used to move supplies.

“We had many obstacles to overcome. But this project is finishing on budget and on time. I’m very proud of that,” Herzog said.

A year ago, the building was an abandoned, boarded-up warehouse with crumbling masonry and major structural problems caused by water damage from a leaking roof.

Masonry had to be redone, with mortar replaced. Structural beams, rotted away or destroyed by termites, needed replacing.

Now, the structure is ready to house an art gallery, classrooms and a theater when the Center for the Arts moves in during September or early October.

Much of the building’s inside works are meant to reflect its original use, as a candy factory.

On the first floor, the wall dividing the front lobby from the art gallery is made of glass, keeping the open feeling of a storage room where bushels of peanut brittle and candy bars awaited shipment on the railroad.

Much of the original whitewash has been kept.

“This was a ‘clean room.’ It was standard to paint the room white so that dirt or spills were easily observed,” Herzog said.

The top third of the walls dividing the four classrooms and office on the second floor are also made of glass. The ceiling beams, along with air conditioning, ductwork and electrical lines are left exposed, creating a unique contrast between old and new.

Even the new roof beams on the third floor — which was opened up more to accommodate a theater — blend in.

The original windows, many of them missing or dilapidated, were replaced with exact replicas.

“It’s an important standard of re-use to give an idea of what the building was originally used for,” Herzog said.

Hopkins Candy occupied the building from its opening in 1908 until the company’s demise in the 1920s.

For 30 years, Southern States Cooperative warehoused livestock feed in the structure. A diesel engine installed on the roof during the 1930s was responsible for much of the building’s structural problems.

Merchant’s Tire & Auto Centers bought the building during the 1960s and used it as a storage area for tires. Merchant’s sold the building to Manassas in 1998.

Similar Posts