Local design/build contractor Will Alphin and local architect Vincent Whitehurst are bringing a new bar to downtown Raleigh on Fayetteville Street: Foundation. Design began for the space close to two and half years ago. Believe us when we tell you: it doesn’t get much more quality than this.
Both Whitehurst and Alphin have reputations for delivering with integrity. That’s why building owner Jean Pauwels hired them to renovate his building at 213 Fayetteville Street. He is the representative for the entire US for PyroLave, a French company specializing in quarried lava rock, which is then glazed and sold as a variety of architectural products. The second floor of the building will contain gallery/showroom space for PyroLave, and clients will fly in from all over the world to consult with Pauwels at his new space in Raleigh.
“The building should be good to go for about the next hundred years,” Alphin commented on the modifications he and his crew have made to 213 Fayetteville. Alphin’s construction process for the building is fascinating. Conceptually, the building has been sort of petrified from the top down; individual parts, pieces and components of the structural and enclosure systems have been tweaked, reinforced or replaced. Much of the material removed during demolition was salvaged and repositioned elsewhere. The height of the building was raised several feet and a new roof structure and membrane were installed. This is evident the top floor tenant space, which is under contract negotiation with a theatre company, where new masonry laid above the exposed 1915 brick supports new steel joists and roof decking. All throughout the building, structural modifications have been made to the floors, ceilings and walls.
tenant space under negotiation
The basement, which will be home to Foundation, was simply crawlspace before Alphin and Whitehust got a hold of it. The duo’s idea to start the bar came from a desire to act as their own client: “It allowed us a level of freedom in terms of design and scheduling that’s extremely difficult to obtain otherwise,” Whitehurst said of the project. The entire lower level had to be excavated by hand. Charlie Myer, with Alphin Design/Build, commented on the excavation effort, “Obviously you can’t drive a backhoe underneath a historic building on Fayetteville Street.”
door to unexcavated portion
Foundation’s philosophy is grounded in local craft, quite a complementary concept to PyroLave, whose international scope of business results in clients and projects that spread all over the World. What’s not so different about these two businesses is the quality nature of the product. Foundation will serve beer brewed only in North Carolina. Sorry folks, no $2 PBR here. A regional selection of wine will be served as well as liquors distilled domestically. Fixed tables in the main space will be constructed from an old boiler that was removed from the building, reinforcing some of the project’s recurring principles geared towards sustainability: local, reused and crafted to last.
The business will undoubtedly have naysayers who claim that a cheap staple will be necessary to sustain a profit, but Whitehurst and Alphin are aiming to create a level of integrity akin to that of their own work—work that is in constant demand. There are many fine dining restaurants with rotating menus of locally available selections that do quite well—so why not a bar?
Considering the careful time and effort put into this establishment, and its location next to the Mint down the street from the new Convention Center, this bar might have all the ingredients to be a thriving local business. Look for Foundation to open up for business sometime in the Spring of 2009.
Tenants of 213 Fayetteville, according to city directories
1896 storage, hardware, and tin shop, name unknown
1903 W.C. Stronach’s Sons Company, grocers
1915 The Almo, theatre
1927 The Vogue, men’s clothes
1953 The Vogue of Raleigh, (same)
1977 Holly’s Hallmark
courtesty of the Raleigh City Museum
The Almo Theater, image courtesy of the Raleigh City Museum
The Vogue, image courtesy of the Raleigh City Museum
The two-story building has a remodeled facade that includes a plate-glass storefront with plywood at the transom and stucco covering the original second story materials. Three window openings hold plate glass that likely replaced double-hung wood sash windows. Stucco-clad beltcourses bring horizontal detail to the facade at the mid-point of the height of the windows and above the windows and below the plain cornice. Another beltcourse merges with the window lintels, creating a continuous line across the top of the windows; a similar treatment merges the sills.
The Almo was built as a movie theater in 1915; in 1917, there were three movie houses in Raleigh, including the Superba at 222 Fayetteville Street and the Palm at 130 East Martin Street. The two Fayetteville Street theaters catered to whites and the Palm to African Americans. The Almo continued showing movies until 1925, when it became the Vogue, a clothing store. The Vogue remained in business at least through the early 1960s, and its owners remodeled the building in 1943. This is likely when the second-story windows were installed. The late-twentieth-century remodeling obscured whatever other details may have been incorporated originally or in 1943. The building most recently housed a Hallmark card shop; it was vacant prior to the currently ongoing renovation.
during excavation, photo courtesy of Vincent Whitehurst
facade prior to construction, photo courtesy of Vincent Whitehurst