After years of trying to figure out what to do with the old Sheets building at 20 E. William St., the future of the house was on full display to the community Friday. Main Street Delaware (MSD) held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to unveil the newly remodeled home, which will now serve as the Delaware Welcome Center and the nonprofit’s new headquarters.
During the event, guests were able to tour the home to view the renovations and meet MSD’s new executive director, Courtney Hendershot, who took office on July 11.
Friday’s event served as the finish line for MSD, which took over as the building’s tenant nearly two years ago after the city was unable to secure the approval of site clearance plans for a brand new visitor centre.
Prior to the lease, a city proposal to demolish the building was eventually withdrawn in 2017 after the plan met with opposition from the Historic Preservation Commission. The following year, a plan to raze the house and build a new visitor center on the site was also proposed but failed to gain commission approval.
As it became increasingly clear that demolition of the building would not be supported, the Delaware City Council approved the lease agreement to allow MSD to renovate and repurpose the home in August 2020.
“It’s exciting,” MSD program coordinator Caroline Pusateri told The Gazette. “It took a long time from when we first saw the building in 2018 to signing the lease in 2020 and then obviously going through a pandemic and knowing some of the shortage of supplies and just finding some contractors to do the job. It’s mostly exciting to finally be ready to open up and show the community the hard work we’ve been doing.
After securing the lease, then-General Manager Susie Bibler and the MSD team were tasked with raising the necessary funds to pay for the building’s renovations, which totaled $210,000. Hendershot said the target was exceeded by “a few thousand dollars”, estimating it was capped at around $213,000.
Asked what impact she thinks the visitor center will have on downtown Delaware, Hendershot shared her hope that the building will become a landmark that draws more people to the area.
“I think when you think about our downtown and the city of Delaware in general, having a visitor center, it’s going to start to be almost a landmark or an icon for our downtown,” a- she declared. “One, because it puts Main Street Delaware even more on the map, but two because it invites more people to come to our downtown area. Now they can come here to use the restrooms or to get tourist information, so it will really be a landmark for our downtown area and kind of help put us on the map and let people know better what’s in our downtown area.
Pusateri added of the benefits MSD will see from the building, “Our mission statement is to be a vibrant downtown experience for all…We know that some people can’t make it to our events or they live the world differently, so if there aren’t accessible restrooms for them, they might not even consider coming downtown. Offering this option just helps us more fully complete our mission statement.”
Hendershot went on to say that MSD had outgrown its previous space on Winter Street, especially with the amount of storage needed considering all the different events that MSD runs, but now everything can fit under one roof. Having multiple rooms in the building will also benefit the organization in that it will allow separate meetings to be held simultaneously, as well as provide space for other organizations such as Destination Delaware County, which also has an office in the building.
Although Friday’s event was primarily to show off the new Welcome Center to the community, it also allowed Hendershot to meet more members of the community as she settles into the role of CEO. Hendershot called the event a “huge opportunity for me to meet some of our donors and sponsors that I haven’t met in the past” and a “great networking event for me to build those relationships and continue to build on what Susie (Bibler) and Caroline (Pusateri) have already done in the past.
A group gathers in front of the new Delaware Welcome Center on Main Street Delaware Friday afternoon during the official ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new center at 20 E. William St.
Contact Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @DillonDavis56.