Down East Preservation to set up shop in Belhaven

Published 10:30 am Tuesday, July 18, 2023

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Down East Preservation is in the middle of their first repurpose project in Beaufort County. They are transforming a mid-century gas station on East Main Street in Belhaven into a hub for Down East employees working in the county. 

“We’ve always thought of Bath, Little Washington, Belhaven as where we wanted to push the business as the most logical next place,” Dawson Tyler said. Tyler started Down East Preservation in 2015. With co-founder Burton Swain, the pair have restored multiple homes and businesses in Edenton and the northeast region of North Carolina. 

“Our purpose is to promote preservation and the area’s history through restoration of important structures that are both privately owned and purchased by the company. The homes, buildings, and businesses we restore tell a unique and beautiful story of generations past. These stories, including the hands and buildings that tell them, need to be preserved and celebrated,” according to Down East Preservation. 

The “fun, adaptive, re-use” project will add office and living space inside the historic gas station, Tyler explained. 

“The idea with the bedrooms and the work space and office is that when we have people down here working in Little Washington, Bath or Belhaven can stay here,” Tyler said. 

The 3,000 sq. ft. gas station is on the Belhaven waterfront which means Tyler and his team have to account for future flooding. In the front half of the building where the living space will be built, the floors will be raised 30 inches so that water cannot access it. This way, the water can be pushed out from the back of the building to prevent damage. 

Tyler hopes to have the building repurposed by Oct. 1. 

Down East Preservation not only restores and repurposes historic buildings and homes. They have several branches within the company. Under Down East Properties, they build custom homes that have modern and historic elements. They have Down East Woodworks that offers custom cabinetry, furnishings and wood-based art, and Down East Design offers clients an opportunity to work with an on-site interior designer. 

Their latest work includes repurposing a late 19th-century building which was formerly the Edenton Ice Company. It was used by commercial fishermen on the Albemarle Sound and Chowan River who caught herring. The former ice house was renovated into the Town of Edenton’s police station then transformed by Down East Preservation into The Herringbone on the Waterfront restaurant.