After 50 years of housing Hess Furniture, the historic building at 139 N. Liberty Street has entered a new phase. Renovated by Matchbox Realty, the space now houses Immerge Technologies, Edward Jones (Gannon Irons), IT Decisions, Big Valley Law, and Journey Counseling, and The Frame Factory & Gallery – a business new to downtown but local to Harrisonburg for 38 years.
Matchbox Realty has transformed the Hess Building, which was built around 1920. The space was gutted, the old cement floors were replaced, and new modern amenities were added – all while preserving the building’s historic charm and bringing sought-after class A office space downtown. The businesses that now call the Hess Building home are connected by a light-filled, modern foyer that is in the main entrance of the building. According to Matchbox’s Chief Operating Officer, Mike Hendrickson, preserving the original integrity of the building was a priority for this historic tax credit project. Without the tax credits, projects like this one would not be economically feasible and it would be cost prohibitive to create new and desirable spaces in the historic buildings of downtown Harrisonburg.
Dana Harshberger, the owner of The Frame Factory & Gallery, says that moving downtown has had a positive effect on her business. While long-time customers find the new location easier to access, Dana said she’s gained new customers who are pleasantly surprised that they can get custom framing downtown, Plus, foot traffic has incredible considerably. “A lot of people walk in and browse on their way to the Wolfe Street Brewery,” she says. “Then, they come back with their art [to be framed].”
The new Frame Factory is half the size of its previous location. Dana explains, “I wasn’t using the whole space, but I was paying to heat it, cool it, and fill it with inventory. I was diluting the essence of my business.” By moving to Hess, Dana has been able to focus on what her business is really about — custom framing, “readymades,” repairs, as well as art available for purchase.
Dana enjoys having these businesses as neighbors. “It’s nice to have people around. We sign for packages for each other. There’s camaraderie, and even built-in advertising! Customers walk through the building and ask what else is here.”
The Hess Building is a beautiful remnant of the past that’s been transformed for modern-day use. Join a Friends of Downtown tour of the Hess Building and the newly renovated “Little Red House” on July 11. Details will be coming soon on our website and in our enewsletter.