One Of Beacon's Historic Buildings From 1907 - Telephone Building at 291 Main Street - Is For Sale

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You know this building as the brick building across from Key Food. 291 Main Street is the building that always has its owner and restorer - Deborah Bigelow - outside sweeping trash, scraping cigar spit, raking the driveway and tree filler (yes, raking it into a meditative pattern), and who was up on the boom last year gilding the words "Telephone Building" in gold leaf by hand. If you went to her presentation for the Beacon Historical Society, you would have learned that those gold leaf sheets came in small squares that she needed to take up to the top of the building, in strong winds, and do her thing to gild it to the iconic letters.

This detail work was her signature and final piece of work to a building she rescued 27 years ago. Deborah has reached her point of retirement, and is selling the building. She has listed it in A Little Beacon Blog's Real Estate Guide, and is representing it herself. You can read more about the full renovation of the building at the Telephone Building’s website, which has lots of pictures.

Learn more about the love story  behind this bar in A Little Beacon Space.

Learn more about the love story behind this bar in A Little Beacon Space.

When buildings go up for sale, a wave of uncertainty goes through the community. A Little Beacon Blog is Deborah's tenant in the front office, with windows overlooking Main Street. We did this to physically connect with the community to offer pop-up shops, workshop space, and more in what we call A Little Beacon Space.

We always knew that at some point soon in her life, Deborah would embark on her sale of the building. Therefore, we are 100% supportive and thrilled for her. In fact, it has launched a million dreams of where A Little Beacon Space might pop up next. We wrote a Love Note To Deborah and discussed possibilities of our future plans in this article, which you can read here.

PS: Our South Avenue elementary school kids are practicing songs from "The Greatest Showman" for their next recital, so it's a nice coincidence that this really inspiring soundtrack is fueling the move to...we don't know where! Or maybe staying right here! We wrote a Love Note To Deborah As She Sells Her Building, which you can read here.

Love Note To Deborah As She Sells Her Historic and Renovated Telephone Building, Built In 1907

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When Deborah first told me of her intentions to sell her building, it wasn’t a surprise. Selling a building after 27 years of investing hundreds of thousands of dollars into restoring and maintaining it is obviously a retirement plan.

What was a surprise, however, was my immediate emotional reaction to the news: I was sad that I wouldn’t see Deborah (nearly) every day. Deborah has become part of my life. My little Yoda. And she’s other people’s Yoda too. From one business woman to another, I value her more than she knows. That’s why I am so excited for her to be releasing her building to a new “caretaker owner,” as she calls her future prospect, whomever that may be. Maybe another woman! Who knows.

In The Beginning (well… for me)

Filling the space of the front office in the Telephone Building was a dream that occurred to me while attending the going-away party for the Nixie Sparrows. Remember those two creative birds? WOW, did a lot of creativity come out of that office - now this office that I sit in. I’ve been working in the digital space for 2 years as a website designer, blogger, motivator, and teacher. Occupying a physical space isn’t necessary for us digital artists, but when you’re mainly prancing on a keyboard, the desire for physical creation and connection grows.

The first space in Beacon that actually cracked into my brain as a potential work home was the tiny hallway of a space next to the Beacon Hotel (and I’m not alone… many people have fantasized about having a retail something in that space). The former Howling At The Edge Of Chaos (blessings), and prior to that, it had been something else whimsical. I’d gotten word that it was becoming available, and I considered occupying it for my blogging headquarters. And hey, maybe I’d also rent it out for pop-up shops, since those are so fun in Beacon. And then the Nixie Sparrows flew the coop, and I began stalking their landlord: Deborah Bigelow.

About Deborah Bigelow

Deborah Bigelow is a very small person physically, but a ginormous person in her field, which is the gilded and preservation arts (covering things in gold leaf and restoring anything). Before I even met her, I knew of her via Instagram as @gildedtwig. In fact, she gilded a pumpkin for an article on A Little Beacon Blog once. I never knew at that point that she was the owner of the Telephone Building.

When Deborah interviewed me to take the space, she had other suitors. This room is a very desirable space. It’s very bright, and the Nixies had strung lights and commissioned a really cool metal/wood bar for the room (which I bought from them in order to keep in the space… and it even has a love story connected to it!). So I had to impress Deborah and hope that she liked what I wanted to do with the space.

The Beginning Of A Little Beacon Space

I wanted to use the space for pop-up shops, workshops and retreats. She warned me over and over of the lack of foot traffic (it has since picked up over the years that I’ve been here). I didn’t care. I’m from the digital world, so I’m used to working for every person that walks through the door. I don’t just hang my shingle and wait for the people to come in. I hang my shingle, and the work has just begun. It’s why I named my marketing education business Tin Shingle. Tin is a resilient metal, and Shingle is a store sign. It’s the first of many steps to bring people in.

And A Little Beacon Space has done that. It has brought people in for all kinds of reasons. From the private book club I did a year ago for The Artist’s Way, and formed incredible bonds with a handful of women, to the pop-up shops that have set up amazing displays in here, and had tremendous results. Better than they expected. In fact, one of possibly your favorite little shops in Beacon, Artifact, started as a pop-up shop here and now has their own brick-and-mortar spot near Dogwood. We even did kids’ hair cuts with Salon Dae! And now I go to Audrina for my cut and color.

Back To Deborah

The more I learned about Deborah, and her years here as a landlord and as a restoration artist, the more I couldn’t believe that more people didn’t know about her. I mean - super-local people know her from diligently sweeping the Telephone Building’s steps and using a toothbrush to clean cigar spit from her limestone steps. The owner of Cafe Amarcord is one of her silent protectors, as he’s been watching for years as she picks up the trash people leave around the place, and the challenges she’s faced from those with a little too much moxie out on the sidewalk.

I call Deborah a “restoration artist.” She tells me that it’s not an official term, but she’ll accept it if I call her that. She has binders filled with notes of history of what has happened in the building - from tenants’ agreements to notes to evidence of tomfoolery (really nice word for criminal behavior) that she’s endured over the years. She is one of the founding participators in Beacon Speaks Out, which had been working toward involving the community with the police department. She even has detailed notes on how the Nixies strung the lights on the ceiling here in the office, in case we need to replace them.

Deborah is a very calm and planned person. She’s from Pennsylvania and extremely respectful of others, and an up-lifter of the spirit. When I took this space, it was on a wing and a prayer. She supported me every step of the way. If I was feeling down or doubtful, she was there to lift me up.

Therefore, it is with great pleasure that I watch her reach her point in “retirement” and move into her own next steps. She is selling the building directly herself, and has a website for it that gives plenty of information, like pictures and numbers. You can even see Before and After photos of her renovation. She has listed the building in A Little Beacon Blog’s Real Estate Guide, and when she handed me the layout of photos for the listing (she wanted them in exactly a planned way… so Deborah!) she did so with tears welling up in her eyes. As I took the piece of paper from her hands, I brushed away our tears and kept our eyes on the future.

“You’re Staying… Right?”

My own children asked me this question when I told them the news. Friends on the street who are hearing the news are asking it as well. I’m asking it of myself!

I’m on a month-to-month lease right now. This is actually an exciting prospect to me. I like change. It sparks new creativity. It unplugs some clogs that I didn’t know were there, and makes things flow freely again. It reveals thoughts and priorities that often sit silently on the back burner, being ignored.

So here’s the thing. I don’t know where A Little Beacon Space will be. There are many scenarios that could play out. A new owner could buy the building, and not need the rent money, and keep my rent the same. As you can imagine, this building was bought 27 years ago, and Deborah has been very kind to us for rents. For a storefront space on Main Street in the heart of Beacon, with two walls of windows that let in glorious natural light from historically renovated windows, my rent is below market value at $1,260. If it increased, could I sustain it? Possibly.

Math from a new mortgage tells me that my rent would need to change. Unless the new owner is a collector, and likes to keep things the way they are and can afford to do that! But, if that doesn’t happen, then a few other scenarios could play out. Like…

  • Buy the Building? While my first thought was to assume that I’d exit out of the building, my next thought was to buy the building. My husband and I considered this, as a handful of people around us have expressed interest in investing in Beacon. The first building we seriously thought of buying was actually the yellow house with the warehouse behind it, formerly Trendy Tots. That’s what hooked us into Beacon in the first place. It was $450K at the time, and sold for nearly a million! Kicking ourselves! Presented with a perfect building such as the Telephone Building, getting together the down payment would still be tricky and involve me finding grants, such as women-owned business grants or historic building grants, and that’s a lot of homework that is not my specialty. The business model would also be tricky, but could involve me starting a podcast production studio in the basement - to add audio to media available from A Little Beacon Blog with different podcast shows. Writers and production for the web version of A Little Beacon Blog could also come in for shared office hours and write and be a team together. I would keep my current space as a fancier event space for rental income, which it is now.

  • Weather the Rent Increase: Possibly. If the new building owner(s) wanted A Little Beacon Blog and Tin Shingle to stay there and continue to offer the space as a venue for creatives and community, I would take a harder look at my marketing plans.

  • A Little Beacon Trailer! I really love trucks and trailers. I would love to tow my office behind my ginormous, un-eco-friendly car that can tow 9,000 pounds. What about a mobile office? I discovered the people at Flexetail, and aren’t those trailers gorgeous!?! My friend Sh* That I Knit got one, and when my girl here in Beacon, April from La Mère Clothing and Goods got her trailer for La Mère Petite, I couldn’t take it anymore. I need one. Maybe A Little Beacon Space would be a vendor down at Long Dock and have pop-ups sometimes?!

  • Little Beacon Spaces (as in more than one)? Maybe there could be more than one Little Beacon Space… There certainly is a demand for office space and I would love to be a provider of it…This is a bigger project, but is in Research Phase.

  • Go Home? I worked from home for 11 years. I could do it again. I’ve worked from my car from parking lots at Panera, skimming their wifi. But maybe I should stay out here in Brick and Mortar Land. What do they say? Go big or go home?

So I’m going to Go Big for now. A Little Beacon Space is going to market like gangbusters to rent out our space for workshops, retreats, photo shoots and pop-ups. Tell your friends! We’re only booking two months in advance until things become clearer of what is happening. Details and to book online are always at www.alittlebeaconspace.com.

Thank you for listening. While change creates uncertainty, please join me in wishing Deborah the best as she enters into this new phase.

The Love Story Behind The Bar In A Little Beacon Space

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Upon reflecting on my favorite aspects of A Little Beacon Space in the Telephone Building, I came upon a certain detail about the bar that is in the front left corner of the office. Did you know that there is a love story behind the bar in A Little Beacon Space? It’s one of the signature pieces in this office, and one that I thought came with the room when I was considering renting it. Turns out it was commissioned by the former occupiers of this space, the Nixie Sparrows, designed and built by Falls Woodsmith, and if I wanted the bar to stay, I needed to buy it. So I did.

One day, a fellow website creator, Courtney Kolb (formerly Urciuoli) aka @hudsonvalleycompass, met with me to talk about her website she built, Wappingers Rises. As we chatted at the bar, she said: “You know, I met my husband thanks to this bar.”

What? Here’s Courtney’s “How We Met” Story Thanks To The Bar:

The signature on the wood bar in A Little Beacon Space. Created by  Falls Woodsmith .

The signature on the wood bar in A Little Beacon Space. Created by Falls Woodsmith.

“I needed a dining room table made for a project I was working on - I was buying my great grandma’s house in Beacon to live in as my personal home - and I asked Meg (Lawrence, former Nixie Sparrow) who made her bar. She referred Brian Kolb because I loved the bar.

“Brian came over to give me a quote. We talked endlessly, and I always say I never got a dining room table, instead I got the best life. My engagement ring was from the first renovation we did in Beacon. An old flooring nail that he set his grandma’s diamond in. I’m pretty sure I’m the one that pulled the nail out because I pulled all the floor nails out 😂😂 Yes, he set it himself and sealed it . 😂😂❤️❤️❤️

“Fast forward and we’re married eating on the same Ikea dining room furniture I’ve had since college. The very one I wanted to replace when I originally contacted him 5 years ago. I’ve since left corporate America and work with Brian as a husband / wife team restoring homes for our business Falls Woodsmith. We’ve completed 9 huge projects since that first meeting, including several home renovations in Beacon and Wappingers. Our next project 14 Water Street Beacon hits the market May 15th!”

Article Planning - View from Yoga Position

Our office in The Telephone Building is really fun to work out in. Well, not so much work out as stretch and do yoga. If we wanted a real workout, fast, we could go to our neighbors at Studio Beacon for a boxing class. Marilyn is more the cyclist/boxer; I would be just boxing (can’t manage that bike) and jogging around the block.

Sometimes during workouts, articles percolate to the surface, letting us know when the best time to publish them will be. That’s what this chalkboard is for - to catch those ideas. They also live in our Excel spreadsheet for our shared Editorial Calendar, but here’s the more fun-looking version. 

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Yum Yum Homespun

Afternoon snacky snack. A slice of Homespun’s famous carrot cake and a cup of coffee.

Alright, fine - the honest answer - this was dinner.

Doing a Saturday work session to catch up on publishing some articles that are getting way too backlogged! We’re in the middle of a series on the Shopping Guide Shuffle that highlights businesses who have moved down the street, or moved in for the first time, and the buildings that house them. Then we’re doing a few features on the Real Estate Guide, including a spotlight on Newburgh.

Hence, the need for coffee and sugar. Eyes are blurry at this point.  :)

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Meet a Designer for Little Beacon Blog - Allie Bopp!

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Meet Allie Bopp. She’s a graphic designer behind some of A Little Beacon Blog’s designs, and sometimes is Event Space Manager when our office in the Telephone Building is rented for a pop-up shop.

I first discovered Allie Bopp in a Beacon bus stop on Main Street. A new babysitter had canceled on me - a second time in a row! - and I was down in the dumps about it because I was supposed to teach a class for Tin Shingle and couldn’t make it. So my kids and I took a walk, and they had always wanted to sit in the bus stop just to sit. So we sat. Taped to the glass, behind my head, was a flyer with the cutest designs. It was black with rainbow fireworks or stars all over, advertising for a babysitter. I took the number and called. Was I crazy? Calling a random phone number from a bus stop? Turned out, it was Allie Bopp, from Wappingers (she’s a Beaconite now). You can see her work at her website, and she also does work for me at my design shop, Katie James, Inc.

Allie is amazing and in addition to staffing A Little Beacon Blog’s table while I marched in the Spirit of Beacon Day Parade with South Avenue Elementary, she rocked ALBB’s table by setting it up with our new totes (!!!) and meeting the wonderfully different people who wander up to the table to ask questions and sign up for the newsletter.

Pictured above is her boyfriend, posing as a signer-upper. (I’m told he really did sign up!) The best question we got of the day was: “Are you going to keep covering the storms?” When we did the story on the macrobursts, it made quite an impression on someone who really wanted more information on the local weather and its aftermath. That meant a lot! We are going to try. When there are big repercussions from big weather events, we do try to produce an article for it to help get information out.

During the research for that article, we became aware of some great sources for confirmations of weather events, so we’ll pursue those when something happens. Great sources found at the time included Hudson Valley Weather’s Facebook and Central Hudson’s Twitter. You can always email pictures of damage or something incredible to Editorial@alittlebeaconblog.com.

The mums at our table were from Key Food next door, purchased that morning for about $5 each! A passerby told us that we could plant them in the ground and they’d come back for years if we cut them back at the end of each fall. Will try!

Putting Up the Spooky Lights on Main Street

We’re setting up the spooky lights in the office ... After seeing orange, purple and pink Halloween 🎃 lights going up already on front porches of Beacon, we had to join in the spooky spirit!

Usually Home Depot has the glorious spread of Halloween yard decorations, but this year, Rite Aid in Beacon has enough choices on the shelves to do in a pinch. Brett’s Hardware, down on West Main, has the mums (flowers, not mummies!) and some other colored lights.

Happy Fall! 

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