Plumber restores three waterlogged storefronts in downtown Lowell

Deborah Johnson Wood

Plumbers slog through a lot of water throughout their careers, but not quite like Lowell's Greg Canfield does it. He's in the midst of restoring three waterlogged 1880s storefronts that sit just above the surface of the Flat River in downtown Lowell.

When Canfield, owner of Canfield Plumbing & Heating and a member of the Lowell Downtown Historic District Commission, found out that 115, 117 and 119 W. Main were going to be demolished because of their water damaged foundations, he jumped at the chance to preserve them.

"We already lost some similar buildings next door and you lose the heart of the downtown," he says. "That's why I bought these."

Connected to each other, the buildings sit at the west end of the bridge that the Michigan Department of Transportation is now rebuilding. Canfield will combine the buildings into one. Window walls overlooking the river and an outside deck provide spaces for river viewing.

He and construction company Ridgeline Reconstruction waited until ice formed on the river to start the renovation, reasoning that it was easier to sweep discarded building materials off the ice than to try to prevent materials from falling into the river. Canfield estimates 50 dump truck loads of debris were removed.

"Every time the buildings would settle and sink the answer was to put a new floor on top of the old one, and layer upon layer was added over the years," he says. "There were actually four floors in the buildings."

Canfield discovered stairway openings in the ceilings of two of the buildings. Research confirmed they used to be two-story buildings, so he's topping them with new second levels.

He says a hair salon has shown some interest, and he could put a large residential condominium upstairs.

He also says the space would make a great inn or hotel with a main floor restaurant and guest rooms upstairs.

Source: Greg Canfield, Canfield Plumbing & Heating

Deborah Johnson Wood is development news editor for Rapid Growth Media. She can be contacted at [email protected] Development News tips can be sent to [email protected]