“They totally needed restoration. Every time I looked at them I envisioned what I could do with them,” he said.
So what did he do? He bought them and renovated them so dramatically, people are now stopping to take pictures.
Two years ago, LeBlanc signed up for the town’s Main Street façade program and received $5,000 in matching funds to renovate what is now known as the Consulate Building, at 255 Main St. The Gothic-style revival building was built in 1845 and is the location for his real estate business and now also his daughter’s café – The Perky Owl.
LeBlanc invested far beyond the town’s contribution in improvements that included a striking blue paint job and attractive architectural details. He was so pleased with the results he applied to the façade program again for his newly acquired buildings at 258 and 260 Main St.
He spent considerable time researching his plan, visiting Lunenburg and looking at its buildings, spending hours online searching Victorian structures and noting architectural features of historic homes in Yarmouth. One thing he was certain of: these buildings were going to stand out.
“If you’re going to liven up this town, do it with colour,” he said.
LeBlanc has always appreciated attention to architectural detail, especially if paint is used to accentuate it.
Once it came time to renovate the buildings, the need for extensive repairs became obvious.
“They were in bad shape. Once I started digging into the meat… I mean the bones were good … but I had to replace rotten sills in the basement and gut the whole inside, take out the rot and replace it with new,” he said.
The buildings, which date back to the 1800s, are now newly wired and plumbed, completely insulated, with new flooring, new gyprock and new ceilings (an original tin ceiling was kept).
LeBlanc delved into his collection of antique details, including corbels, finials and gable decorations. He repurposed some items, bought some from antique stores, had some custom-built and ordered others from suppliers. He hand-painted many pieces for the renovation.
Other decorations were repurposed. The metal juliettes (windowboxes) on 260 are from an old gate. He cut the hinges off and had a welding shop build the sides and bottom.
Some of the corbels are made from mahogany decorations that were originally on the sides of an old pump organ.
LeBlanc is enjoying the excitement and energy the renovated buildings are generating and says he hopes they continue to inspire more improvements in the town. “This is part of creating that enthusiasm.”
More about the Yarmouth façade program
The façade improvement program encourages commercial building owners to invest in façade renovations and storefront improvements by providing matching grants to cover a portion of renovation costs.
For more information, visit this website.