The day before snow started falling in Delta, crews finished the exterior repairs of Davis Clothing, on the southwest corner of 4th and Main.
The building suffered extensive damage Thanksgiving Day, when a Grand Junction woman, allegedly under the influence of alcohol, rammed her RV through the side of the building. The popular mural depicting Delta County fruit labels was also damaged.
Project manager Ron Murphy, with the help of Karl Schwinn of KS Construction and other volunteers, has handled the structural repairs while business owner Brad Davis carries on day-to-day operations.
"All the structural work is done and we're at a point now where we have to do the finishes on the inside," Murphy said last week. "There's quite a lot of work still to do, detailed work to match the old and new construction, but it's going quite well. Our goal was to get the outside done before we got bad weather and fortunately the good Lord was taking care of us."
The interior wall toward the rear of the store was lined with shelves that reached to the ceiling. An antique rolling ladder provided access to the shelves, which stretched from floor to ceiling from the front of the store to the rear.
The rear portion of those shelves was smashed when the RV punctured the wall. The RV created an opening in the wall that roughly follows the lines of an old archway that was used to bring horses in and out of the livery stable that originally occupied the building.
From a header along the top of the archway to the ceiling, the brick will be repaired. From the header to the floor, the wall will be sheetrocked. Murphy and Davis are discussing replacement shelving that could include cabinets and countertop work space.
The exterior brick work was handled by John Whitney of Keystone Design Masonry. A former resident of the Front Range, Whitney has extensive experience in masonry repair and restoration, including work on Denver's historic Union Station.
The biggest hurdle, he said, was locating matching brick. The building was constructed in 1884, prior to the production of Delta Brick, but Delta Brick was available when the arch was filled in.
"What was in there was fired and smooth on the outside and didn't match the original brick," Murphy said. After searching countywide, they found a very good match at the Hotchkiss Barn, which was damaged in a wind storm several years ago. The brick was made during roughly the same period of time as the bricks for the livery stable.
After cleaning and sorting through the varying sizes of brick donated by the Hotchkiss family, Whitney then took the time to tool the mortar joints so they'd look the same as the original.
Some additional demolition was also required, which Whitney described as a "really delicate process."
"You have to know how much to take and when to stop," he said, "but I've done this so many times I know the behavior ... the character of this type of wall."
The porous sand bricks were covered with several coats of primer to protect them against the elements. What appears to be a white splotch of paint is simply "gorgeous" to the men who appreciate the effort it took to match the bricks and joints.
The wall is ready for mural repairs in the spring. Cedaredge artist Connie Williams, the creator of the popular mural, has agreed to make those repairs. She still has access to the original paints and to the templates of the labels.
Everyone involved in the project expressed appreciation for Dan Reardon, City of Delta building inspector. Murphy said Reardon helped expedite the permitting process so the work could get done before bad weather arrived.
Fundraising efforts for the restoration project continue. Davis was not insured and it's not likely the RV driver was, either, since her license had been revoked. Davis said he has not been able to obtain building insurance because of the antiquated electrical wiring. If any funds are left after restoration, they'll be used to upgrade the wiring.
For more information, call Brad Davis at 874-4370. To make a donation, stop by First Colorado National Bank.