PRESERVING A HISTORY: Local business revamps building, keeps vintage character
Published 8:34 pm Monday, January 26, 2015
A historic building marked with remnants of architecture from another century is being repurposed for a local business started by a Beaufort County native.
Rachel Midgette, a native of Bath, is prepping for the grand reopening of her business, Rachel K’s Bakery. The bakery will be housed in Washington’s Old City Hall, was purchased by Midgette in August of last year.
The building has undergone extensive remodeling, including all new ventilation, lights and electrical wiring and plumbing, among other cosmetic renovations, Midgette said. Currently, workers are finishing up the plumbing and electrical and new, steam-injected ovens are being installed, which will add to the bakery’s capabilities, Midgette said.
“They inject steam into the oven to get that crackly texture of good like baugettes,” Midgette said. “This is something I’m really excited about because it allows us to up the ante on what we’re doing.”
Despite the remodel, however, Midgette has been sure to keep the building’s original charm to preserve its history, she said. The front of the building has been repainted, but, above the entrance, Midgette found oak-leaf carvings, a carving resembling a sunflower and several other cosmetic carvings that were done in the buildings heyday, which she has allowed to remain and add a historic charm to the bakery. Also, despite renovating the upstairs to eventually use as a public space, she has kept all original woodwork and left the brick walls open, as well as the original stained glass facing Market Street. What was once a courtroom will be used as a place to enjoy coffee and/or one of Midgette’s baked goods. The room’s high ceilings are another feature that makes it perfect for such a space, Midgette said.
“I really would like to use the upstairs as a public space to showcase the architecture and history of the building,” Midgette said.
Midgette said she left the area to attend college, and after getting married and having kids, she moved back to Beaufort County. She started selling baked goods in 2010 at downtown Washington’s Saturday Market, building a customer base and gaining popularity among community residents. After being set up in a building shared with a coffee shop on Highland Drive, the lease ended, leaving the bakery without a home. However, Midgette purchased the building when the City of Washington put it up for sale, and since, has been renovating the building.
Midgette said she is excited for the grand opening of her business’ new location, especially being that it’s in her home community. Projected to open by mid-February, the bakery will feature a variety of baked goods, including bagels, homemade pop tarts, lemon twists, hearth breads like baguettes and other whole-grain breads, éclairs, cream pies, old-fashioned cakes, as well as a variety of sandwiches. It will also serve coffee and espresso, Midgette said.
“It means a lot to me to be able to come back to my hometown,” Midgette said. “I never dreamed I would be in this area when I was growing up because I always thought I would move away for employment opportunities. So, to be able to be in this area, be around our families, raise our children around the water in the community, in the church we grew up in and to be in this small town that we see our same customers and see their children growing up and they bring their grandchildren in to visit and you hear these stories of them growing up and being in this building — it’s been nice to have that connection to the city with the building but also with my childhood.”
Rachel K’s Bakery is located at 126 N. Market St. in downtown Washington.