Restoring a landmark

Published 1:11 pm Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Part-time Tryon resident Bob Lanes passion for restoration is giving a new lease on life to a building that old-timers in Tryon sometimes refer to as the old Sunnydale Restaurant.

But Lane isnt quite sure yet what the new life of the building will be.

I dont have any plans for it right now, said Lane from his Charleston, S.C., home. My only plans are to do the very best job I can to restore it. I dont have any end use in mind. Ive admired the building for a number of years, and I didnt want to see it destroyed and another metal building put up.

The old log cabin structure is located on S. Hwy. 176 in Tryon, next to the site where a metal building that will house a new Dollar General is currently under construction.

Lane said he has invested in real estate over the past 40 years, but has also restored a dozen vintage automobiles as well as six buildings, including a pair on Charlestons historic King Street.

I have a real passion for bringing those things back to life, said Lane.

He said he has always appreciated the rustic nature of Tryon and wants to add to that feel.

One thing Ive liked about Tryon is the lack of all the national concerns, Lane said. Theres not a Hardees downtown or a McDonalds on the corner of Trade Street.

So far, crews at the Sunnydale building have been working on the first phase of the restoration demolition.

Lane said he expects actual construction to begin soon, after demolition is completed and when architectural designs are received from local architect Holland Brady.

In the demo process, were tearing out all of of the mechanical the electrical, the plumbing, everything like that, he said. When were through with it, it will be a new, old building.

Brady said the Sunnydale was originally built in the 1930s with the idea of turning it into a youth center of sorts, but those plans never came to fruition.

After that, the property became a succession of restaurants, including Sunnydale.

Brady, a lifelong Tryon resident, said his plans for the restoration are being done largely from his own memories of the building.

Were trying to restore it somewhat to its original character, said Brady, noting several challenges including working past the damage done by several remodeling efforts over the years.

Were not doing a really authentic restoration, Brady said. Were doing it as close as we can while bringing it up to code. Mostly, its educated guesswork on our part.

Lane purchased the property from former owner/operator Barbara Pierce-Britt. He would not divulge how much he expects it to cost to restore the Sunnydale, saying only that he would spend as much as it takes.

While there are no concrete plans, and Lane said he would not be opening a business in the building himself, he said he could see the building as a type of event center that could make use of the great dining room. To that end, he said he plans to install a fully functional catering kitchen in addition to all the amenities that will bring the building back up to code.

I feel that something good will come from restoring that building, Lane said. I dont know what it is, but something good will come.