Rowland recently purchased the Burton Building, which is located on the corner of 19th Street and 2nd Avenue across from the Walker County Courthouse.
It was built in 1900 by brothers Charles and James Long. A general store and a drug store operated by a third Long brother were originally housed in the building.
“They covered just about everything from cradle to grave,” Rowland said.
The Burton family acquired the property in 1907. Although it is now referred to locally as the Burton Building, a sign near the roof still bears their initials of its first owners — “J.J.& C.D.L. 1900.”
Rowland said the Burtons manufactured harnesses and horse collars until the popularity of the automobile made that business obsolete. After that, they made golf bags until 1997.
“Fred’s,” which is now located on the highway, was also located in the Burton Building for several years.
The structure has been vacant for over a decade, but Rowland hopes it will soon provide office space for business professionals.
Several people in the community have also offered Rowland other suggestions.
“Most want a restaurant of some sort,” Rowland said.
Rowland expects the renovation to be completed by the beginning of 2011. While the inside will be completely remodeled, Rowland hopes to preserve the exterior.
“It reflects the period of the turn of the century when people were pretty austere. I think it has a beauty in its plainness, and I intend to restore the outward appearance as close to what it was when it was built,” Rowland said.
Marion Crew, granddaughter of Charles Long, has confidence in Rowland’s work.
“I had felt like the building was so old that it would be destroyed. I’m so pleased that David is redoing it,” Crew said.
Rowland said there was never a doubt in his mind that the Burton Building should be restored instead of razed.
“Jasper has torn too many historic buildings down. It’s time that we try to reclaim our past,” Rowland said.