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By Beka Compton
The Times 

Waitsburg: A town with a history of reinvention


Courtesy of Bart Baxter

Leroy Cunningham and Jim German prepping and painting the building that is now the Royal Block. Bart Baxter is hard at work supervising!

In the late 2000's, when these photos were taken, no one expected the building that once housed the Farmer's Cafe to become an espresso coffee shop, with a counter made out of the original cafe's sign. No one expected Nothing New Antiques to be converted into a busy salon and spa. The Plaza Beauty Salon was a Main Street mainstay, even after moving locations. However, retirement called and owner Peggy Jones closed her shop a few years ago.

Main Street has been home to many businesses. The famous Bullseye Bar said its final goodbye years ago, and the building has remained empty until recent months. Jim German Bar brought cocktails and art, Coppei Coffee warmed the town with good coffee, baked goods and music, Waitsburg Hardware has closed but remains a place of local friendship, and many miss the Whoop'em Up Cafe for their food, patio and humor.

Even with a quiet Main Street, Waitsburg has come a long way in its 159 years of life. In 1862, the town was little more than a piece of privately-owned homestead land. Kickstarted by the construction of Waits Mill (which, in itself nearly did not happen after Sylvester M. Wait lost his saddlebag full of money), the town began to grow. Build it, and they will come.

There is not much space to build on Main Street these days, but there is plenty of opportunities to grow and revitalize. History is etched and preserved in the walls of the historic buildings, repurposed to fit modern-day needs, and reshaped to cater to today's residents.

It's not easy to keep a small town alive, but with a little grit (and perhaps the same amount of elbow grease as former mayor Markeeta Little Wolf, Jim German, LeRoy Cunningham, Sandy and Lupe Torres, and Bart Baxter used), anything is possible!


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