Excellence on Main Award

Dobbs Building

Awardee: Ray and Kathy Dobbs

Award: Bricks & Mortar Rehabilitation

Year: 2020

City: Chelan

Eyesore to inspiration, the Dobbs Building on East Woodin Avenue in the heart of historic Chelan shows how much impact a small storefront can have on both the built heritage environment and façade improvement ethic of a community. Its transformation from cautionary example of façade fails to poster child of historic rehabilitation is well worth celebrating.

When opened as Smith Hardware in 1912, the building matched the brick masonry of its neighbors, but underwent a significant remodel in the 1950s. When Ray and Kathy Dobbs purchased it in 2004 the façade was dominated by a huge shingle awning. From over the roofline to just above the display windows it was shingles all the way down!

This building and its odd-duck-out awning earned local notoriety when it was included in Chelan’s 2010 Downtown Master Plan as a “before” example. In other words, this little shop was called out. Lucky for the building, Ray Dobbs was on the planning commission and had every intention of answering that call.

The owners hired local architect and former Historic Downtown Chelan Association Board Member, Larry Hibbard, to design the Dobbs Building reconstruction. Larry was exactly the man for the job – aside from being a past Main Street board member, he had served on the Design Committee for many years and had previously designed several other downtown preservation projects. Ron McGauhy, General Manager of the Lake Chelan Historical Society, was also consulted. He brought in as many photos of the original building as possible to provide the reconstruction with accuracy. Improvements were made to the façade, as well as the back approach to the building, which had previously presented as a large garage door.

While the building is small in footprint and stature, the notoriety its “What Not To Do” reference in the Downtown Master Plan made this the improvement project to watch. Since work started on the Dobbs Building in Fall 2019, three additional buildings have façade improvement projects underway. Today, you can walk along East Woodin Avenue and see the transformation from ugly awning duckling to brick and mortar swan.