- Associated Press - Monday, February 13, 2017

McALESTER, Okla. (AP) - The renovation of the old Perkins building, formally known as Cecelia’s in downtown McAlester, has been an ongoing project for owner Kindra Riddel for more than two years.

After back-breaking work and lots of patience, said Riddel, The Venue is now open for business.

Riddel took on this project after following the renovation of neighboring business Common Roots Mercantile.

“I was following their remodel,” Riddel told the McAlester News-Capital (https://bit.ly/2kYOtTV ). “It was inspiring when they discovered the tin ceiling in there. I started asking around for any old buildings for sale, and Kristen Lloyd happened to own the old Perkins building, and I talked her into selling it to me.”

The Venue is a 14,000 square-foot space. Riddel said she discovered historical items as she began the renovation.

“The best part of this project was finding interesting things as I went along,” Riddel said. “Finding writings on the brick as we uncovered the walls and finding old newspapers under the floor. It was like finding clues left behind from people who have worked on this building before. It was like putting together a puzzle piece of history.”

Riddel said before this project she had never done any renovations before.

“I am a registered nurse,” Riddel said. “When this came about, I bought a lot of books to learn the codes and know what I was getting myself into.”

The Venue is already booking weddings and other events, and Riddel is pleased with the response the space has received already from the community.

“It’s looking pretty good so far,” Riddel said. “I have had four or five interested parties just this week come by and look at the space.”

Riddel believes this addition to the historic downtown district will help bring about change and vibrancy to the area.

“When we have events down here there will be hundreds of people coming in from out of town to shop and dine downtown,” Riddel said. “It may encourage the other business owners to stay open late.”

Riddel said the Venue’s addition will “bring a lot to the table.”

Riddel said she hopes that the business will also help stimulate the economy because of catering and out-of-town guests who will attend the weddings.

“We are going to bring so much business to town,” Riddel said. “We are contributing to the city.”

Riddel said she will host live music events as well.

“We had live music for the grand opening and it sounded really great,” Riddel said. “The acoustics in the building are perfect for a live band.”

Riddel said anyone interested in renovating a historic building should feel free to contact her for advice.

“Even if you just wanted to flip a building,” Riddel said. “It will only help property values here and it is a rewarding feeling.”

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Information from: McAlester News-Capital, https://www.mcalesternews.com

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

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