Green Mountain owners honored

The Valley Banner

ELKTON — Green Mountain Properties, located at 315 W. Spotswood Trail in Elkton and owned by Michele Lucci and Raul Castillo, received the February 2017 Community Enhancement Award and plaque.

The Elkton Downtown Revitalization Corporation designed the award to recognize building owners who have made significant improvements to their property.

A great debt of gratitude is due Casey Billhimer, of the Elkton Historical Society, for his September 1999 “Fading Images” column in The Valley Banner. His research and column provided historical information from before the building was constructed through the 1970s.

The information covering this time period has been directly quoted or gleaned from that article:

“In 1930, Jacob Clayton Bear, whose great-great-grandfather, Jacob Bear, was among the first settlers in the Elkton area, built this two-story brick” building and named it Bear’s Cut Rate Store.

Back then, the phrase “cut rate” was the preferred wording for the . . . term “discount.” Jacob C. Bear . . . sold a variety of toiletries and school supplies, among other items. Because he did not have a pharmacist’s license, drug sales were limited to over-the-counter medications and remedies. Many in Elkton remember with fondness the soda fountain where they could buy cherry cokes, milk shakes, and all kinds of ice cream delicacies.

For 17 years, “Uncle Jake” Bear, along with his wife, the former Lucille Palmer, operated his store successfully, surviving the Great Depression and World War II.

On Aug. 23, 1947, Jacob Bear died at the age of 54. His wife continued running the popular business for another year. It is interesting to note that this store location served as a Greyhound bus stop in Elkton as well.

Around 1948, Lucille Bear sold the business to J. Eldon Lineweaver who continued operations as Lineweavers Cut Rate Store. In 1951, the store was sold to Russell A. Bourne who changed the name to Bourne’s Cut Rate Store. He made significant alterations to it by adding blue mirrored, ivory and black panels to the exterior of the lower story for an art deco look. Most likely the idea was taken from the art deco design of the newly built Elkton Theater.

In 1955, Bourne sold out to Thomas D. McGinnis. He renamed it McGinnis’ Cut Rate Store and operated it in the same manner as his predecessors. Over a period of time, McGinnis remodeled and rearranged the store’s interior, but he kept the soda fountain tradition alive throughout his ownership. When Elvis Presley came on the scene in the latter half of the 1950s, McGinnis’ was the place to buy the King’s new recordings. In the 1960s, the top hits of the Beatles, Rolling Stones and other popular musical artists could be found in McGinnis’. Casey Billhimer remembers saving his money to buy his records from there. McGinnis operated his discount business until his retirement in the early 1970s. This also ended the long run of Cut Rate store businesses at this location.

A number of businesses have operated from this location since that time, a combined music store, Radio Shack and two hardware stores: Elkton Home Improvements and Smith’s Hardware. In the late 1990s, Wayne Weaver, owner of Elkton Home Improvements, made major renovations to the upstairs rental apartments and the first floor. These upgrades revitalized the property.

In July 2013, Mike Lucci and Raul Castillo purchased the property and once again refurbished its appearance by making repairs to the roof, brick exterior and painting with bright yellow paint followed by a red trim. It went from being one in a row of several storefronts to a standout presence.

As transforming as this building upgrade has been, it is notable that Lucci and Castillo were just as conscientious in their selection of businesses to rent the first floor space.

Church of the Lamb began renting the space and was a presence from January 2015 through June 2016, when it moved across the street into the updated Old Mill Building.

Almost immediately, in July 2016, a perfect match was found when Jeff Butler, owner and manager of Blue Elk Coffee Company, selected the location for his roasting and brewing coffee venture. Butler did a major remodel in the front of the first floor space and worked diligently to make it a welcoming place for conversation and the best coffee and tea around. He officially opened for business in December 2016.

In his letter to Lucci and Castillo accompanying the award, EDRC President Charlie Dean stated: “We appreciate and commend you for your vision, investment and commitment which give a historical building new life and purpose. You have enhanced the growth of our town by adding a new business, Blue Elk Coffee Company, and instilling pride in our heritage. Thank you for making a significant building in our town’s history a vibrant presence once again.”

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