The old general store on the corner of Godwin Boulevard and Kings Highway in Chuckatuck might appear pretty decrepit at the moment, but work has been under way for about the past 10 days to stabilize the building.
The work includes replacing the roof and windows, fixing the front porch and removing a later addition to the side of the building, Greater Chuckatuck Historical Foundation member Drex Bradshaw said.
Bradshaw said the city of Suffolk had listed a series of items that the building’s current owner, Kent Gwaltney, who inherited it from his family, needs to fix before its next lease on life.
“The city had approved a list of what Mr. Gwaltney was to conform to, and that’s what they’re going to do,” Bradshaw said.
“That will satisfy the city, and ultimately there will be some work done inside.”
Bradshaw said he doesn’t know what Gwaltney has planned for the building, but that the foundation will rent a downstairs room as an office and display area for “memorabilia that we have collected.”
Preservation Virginia named the early-19th-century store to its annual list of endangered historical buildings after the city issued code-violation notices and condemned the building.
Bradshaw worked in the store part-time as a boy, and its earliest known name was Peck’s Cheap Goods.
“I would like to see the store returned to the condition it was in the 1940s and 1930s,” Bradshaw said. “What Mr. Gwaltney decides to do, that’s up to him. All we as a foundation are utilizing is the one room off the side.”
The foundation has decided to help Gwaltney restore the building, pledging some financial assistance.
Gwaltney secured a $10,000 grant from the Economic Development Authority’s Façade Grant program for the repairs, which Bradshaw estimated would be finished within 60 days.
After completing a book it set out to compile on the history of Chuckatuck and the surrounding area, “Chuckatuck: A Crossroads in Time,” the foundation now plans to focus on helping restore historic buildings, Bradshaw said.
“If we don’t do that, then history goes by the wayside,” he said. “Some of our younger generations have about no idea what the store was like.
“It’s something that people will hopefully be able to look at and go in and see the types of items that the stores carried, and have an idea of what it was like in the ‘50s.”