Frank Flaspohler, a lifelong resident of Fayette, remembers building 114B on South Main Street sitting empty for the past 10 years.
Now, Flaspohler spends his weekends renovating the old barber shop just off the Fayette Courthouse Square Historic District, with the hopes of opening a new community performance space by this summer.
Flaspohler is an attorney at his private practice located right on the town square. He was born and raised in Fayette, only leaving to attend college at Loyola University in New Orleans.
When he bought the building in an auction Jan. 8, Flaspohler didn’t have any specific ideas but always had dance in the back of his mind since his daughter Gracie, a pre-K student, loves to dance.
He envisions a place where his daughter and others can go to dance their hearts out under the direction of Bridget Hussey, the president of the Fayette Area Community Theater and a special education teacher at the Fayette School District for 29 years.
Hussey and her mother owned a dance studio in town and she always hoped she could open one again. “The problem is finding a place,” she said.
When Flaspohler reached out to her, asking her to open a studio when the building was renovated, she couldn’t say no.
Together, Flaspohler and Hussey want to open a space the community can use to gather and enjoy the arts.
Hussey hopes the building will have multiple uses, including theater practices and a place where organizations can gather. She says flexibility is important.
“The main goal for me is to get the building into something people can use and something that’s valuable to the community,” Flaspohler said. “I’d really like to see the building have life again.”
It will still hold on to parts of its long history.
During the renovations, Flaspohler is doing his best to keep the building’s historical integrity. He hopes to clear the north-facing wall on the interior of the building to expose the brick and keep the tall, 12-foot ceilings. He also wants to maintain the original brick storefront.
Renovations are not new to Flaspohler. He has done work on the building that his law office resides in, as well as the building next to it that holds the store The Attic. Currently, he is finishing up on apartments above the buildings.
Building 114B has had past lives as a car dealership in the 1950s, a café in the 1960s, an optometry office in the 1980s and, most recently, a barber shop in the early part of the 2000s.
Its next life as a community performance center will touch those closest to Flaspohler. “Every night, I go home and my daughter asks how her dance studio is going,” he said.
Flaspohler also hopes this project will spark other projects in the community. He describes this project as “good forward momentum.”
“There is a good group of folks who are really into making the downtown and the square a better place,” Flaspohler said.