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Zales Building Renovation Uncovering Hidden Jewels

Although renovations of the Zales Building in Downtown Wichita Falls from over, coordinators say the building is already proving to be real gem.
Cajun Fest coordinators are still totaling the proceeds from the 7th annual event Saturday in Downtown Wichita Falls.

And when they get it all counted, some of it will go to renovate a historic downtown building that was the birthplace of a national giant.

You can't tell from the outside but the Zales Building, which was built in 1885, has come a long way. It's the very first Zales Jewelry store in the country and opened 90 years ago this past March.

The Zales brothers operated their national headquarters from her until they relocated the headquarters to Dallas in 1946. While current renovations are far from over, coordinators say this building is already proving to be real gem.

And although it will take a lot of work to renovate this 10,000 square foot structure, city Downtown Development Corporation officials it looks much better than it did seven months ago.

"We had people down here working for several Saturday's and about eight dumpster loads later we are pretty well cleaned out," says Cynthia Laney, executive director of Wichita Falls Downtown Development Corporation.

That's paved the way for renovations to start. So far, coordinators say the roof, flooring and parts of the ceiling have been replaced. The architect overseeing renovations says crews also found some hidden jewels, like brick walls, stamped metal ceilings and unique glass.

"Those were an item that were invented by Frank Lloyd Wright a long time ago ago.  It's a prism glass where it catches the outside sun rays then it refracts it up into the room to lighten the room," says Syd Litteken, architect and member of Downtown Proud.

The glass is all around the building and Litteken says the purchase of replacement glass will allow this building to maintain its original look.

It's a look coordinators say won't be finished for another year but has already attracted the interest of three potential tenants.

Because of volunteers and donated labor, Downtown Proud officials expect renovations to cost no more than $500,000.

And they say once complete, it will help draw even more people to Downtown Wichita Falls, which is the ultimate goal.
 
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