Frank Scalish, owner of Scalish Construction, is attempting to revive Northeast Ohio’s history brick by brick. His latest project is an historic 5,000-square-foot building at 12301 Madison Ave. in Lakewood’s Birdtown neighborhood.
Thanks to a $82,402 Ohio Historic Preservation tax credit, Scalish is renovating six apartments and the street-level store front of the 1915 structure constructed by Michael and Veronika Turza, who lived there until they died. Their children sold the building in the 1950s.
The classic retail downstairs/residential upstairs building had no name, so Scalish dubbed it The Veronika, after Mrs. Turza. He came to own it after the previous owner queried him about renovating the windows. “I got the impression he was just fixing it up to sell it,” Scalish recalls. So he decided to purchase the building and renovate it himself. “We’re only the third owners.”
Scalish is working with the Architecture Office to preserve the historic nature of the building while also updating the interior.
The former home of the Corner Pub, which was actually two storefronts combined into one 1,250-square-foot space, previously housed a hardware store and a candy store. Scalish is currently talking to two potential retail tenants including a coffee chain and restaurateur.
Scalish has already successfully uncovered the original wood storefront of the Veronika’s exterior. “What we’ve found intact we’ve refinished and restored to like the day it was built,” he boasts. “And most of the masonry is intact.” He is also restoring the building’s original glaze brick exterior while large glass doors are on order.
Inside, Scalish removed four ceiling layers to reveal portions of the original tin ceiling. “We should have enough to do at least one side,” he says, adding that one of the previous owners tore out the ceiling to make way for HVAC.
Scalish is refurbishing the original bar and the maple hardwood floors throughout the building. “It was a unique find hiding in plain sight,” he says. “We’re trying to preserve the original woodwork as much as possible.”
The one-bedroom apartments upstairs are being renovated in stages, with phase one nearly complete, says Scalish. The apartments will have updated LED lighting, quartz counter tops, clean white walls and vintage tile accents. The restored original storm windows provide plenty of light throughout the space.
Walls were torn down to open the kitchens to the living rooms, while also creating better natural light and ventilation. “It’s an open layout,” Scalish says of the plans. “The whole floor plan is more modernized. They’re pretty much new from top to bottom”
The first phase is almost complete and Scalish says he plans to start leasing the apartments at market rate within six weeks. The entire project is on schedule to be completed by the end of the year.
The Veronika is not Scalish Construction’s first restoration endeavor. Scalish is building a reputation for restoring local homes and businesses in Northeast Ohio, including his offices in the old Cleveland Trust building on Madison Avenue in Lakewood.
“Old buildings have history, and with that history comes a certain level of soul,” says Scalish. “Most of these old structures were built by true craftsman, by hand, with care and compassion and without the use of modern day tools. They are certainly hard to replicate even in this day and age. This is evident in all of the little details that are present on these historic buildings.”
Scalish freely shares his passion for his work.
“It’s a pleasure to be surrounded by a team of true modern day craftspeople who have the ability and share the passion to return these structures to their original glory,” he says. “I love the idea that these buildings have withstood the test of time and lasted a century. My passion is driven by the legacy that we are leaving behind for the generations to come.”