A new look: Thornes front entrance to get makeover as historic shopping center nears end of multiyear renovations

  • Jon McGee, facilities manager at Thornes Marketplace, holds a historic stained glass panel restored by Patrick Curren of Northampton up to a third floor window at Thornes where it is set to be installed as part of the upcoming renovations.

  • Owner Rich Madowitz, left, Marketing Manager Jody Doele and Facilities Manager Jon McGee talk about the upcoming renovations at Thornes Marketplace in Northampton. STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • The exterior of Thornes Marketplace, including its front entrance off Main Street, is shown last week. The entrance is getting a makeover this spring, part of an ongoing multiyear renovation effort. GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Jody Doele, marketing manager of Thornes Marketplace, left, and Jon McGee, facilities manager, are shown March 28, 2018 in a stairway alcove where new stained glass panels are set to be installed as part of the upcoming renovations. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • A power door operator at the skywalk entrance of Thornes Marketplace in Northampton is shown March 28, 2018. A similar operator is set to be installed at the Main Street entrance as part of the upcoming renovations. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Jon McGee, facilities manager at Thornes Marketplace, holds up a historic stained glass panel restored by Patrick Curren of Northampton nearby a third floor window at Thornes March 28, 2018 where it is set to be installed as part of the upcoming renovations. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • A power door operator at the skywalk entrance of Thornes Marketplace in Northampton is shown March 28, 2018. A similar operator is set to be installed at the Main Street entrance as part of the upcoming renovations. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • The exterior of Thornes Marketplace is shown March 28, 2018 in Northampton. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • This rendering depicts what the new entrance to Thornes Markeplace will look like when a renovation project is complete this spring.

@BeraDunau
Published: 4/1/2018 5:53:41 PM

NORTHAMPTON — While doing the right thing is a reward in and of itself, sometimes it also happens to look beautiful as well.

Thornes Marketplace is nearing the end of a multiyear renovation process designed to increase disability access to the historic Main Street building. One of the final two changes will be installing power operators for the doors at the front entrance. While this is being done, however, the entire front of the building will receive a makeover.

“We took that opportunity to do a full renovation,” said John McGee, the facilities manager at Thornes.

The renovation calls for new tile floors and new interior oak doors. The ceiling height in the foyer will  be raised by 3½ feet, and an antique brass chandelier will be installed. Other changes call for a new lighting system and a fresh façade on the Florence Bank ATM.

McGee said the renovation is going for a neo-historical feel.

“More wood, more stone, more warm custom finishes,” he said.

Richard Madowitz, Thornes’ owner, said that the remodel is seeking to make the area look modern while keeping the best elements of its historical legacy.

“The building has some historical elements that we need to do homage to,” said Thornes spokeswoman Jody Doele. “It’s really a pleasure to bring it back into that same period.”

“Our architect likes to use the word timeless a lot,” said McGee.

McGee said that he has been working at Thornes for 23 years, starting with mopping floors in 1995. He said that he’s completed a number of pet projects in this time, and that he’s wanted to do the entrance for awhile.

“The front entrance has been on my list forever,” he said.

The renovations will start this week, and will take place overnight from 9:30 p.m. to 7:30 a.m., allowing the entrance to be open during regular business hours.

As a historical building that was built in 1873, Thornes is grandfathered in against disability accessibility requirements. However, in 2014, representatives from Thornes and Thomas Douglas Architects met with the the state’s Architectural Access Board. A 12-item list of construction improvements was drawn up to improve disability access, 10 of which have been implemented.

“It’s sort of a self-imposed legal obligation,” he said.

“We could have been grandfathered forever,” said Doele.

Installing the accessibility operators is one of the outstanding items on the list. The other remaining item is improving the disability access ramp to Acme Surplus, which will be done at about the same time as the front entrance.

“The pitch is really steep,” McGee said, adding that new hand rails will also be put in.

McGee noted that he’s been getting disability access comments for a long time, and that a number of those people are local.

“It’s satisfying to know that we’ve been able to meet those needs,” said McGee. “It’s the same people.”

He also said that the installation of the ramp into Herrell’s was particularly appreciated.

Two other prominent changes at Thornes will involve stained glass.

Doele noted that the double windows on the side stairwell behind the cafe, which once held stained glass, will be given new stained glass windows from Dragonfly Stained Glass Studio in Easthampton and Heather McLean, who owns the studio.

“We were very fortunate to find her,” said Doele. “We like working with local folks.”

The old stained glass windows were taken out a few months ago with the hopes of restoring them and returning them to their original place. However, it was determined that this would not be possible, as they were too damaged. Instead, the old windows are set to be hung up inside on the top floor.

Bera Dunau can be reached at bdunau@gazettenet.com.




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