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Blast from the past: Grimauds bring new life to old Box Factory building in downtown Thomson

When the factory on Black Street in Thomson closed, no one intended it to be re-opened.

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Arthur Grimaud poses in front of pictures of his mother and mother-in-law - the namesakes of Fannie and Marie's at The Tracks, the Grimauds' antique business which is housed in the Box Factory building.

Arthur Grimaud had a different plan for the building when he saw it. Mr. Grimaud, who has been working on renovating the building since 1994, saw a unique importance for the building.

"We just enjoy past history and buildings and rebuilding them," Mr. Grimaud said.

The building was used to house a wooden crate production business from 1931 to 1986. Restoring the plant was no easy task, as there were many aspects of the facility that needed major work before the building could be used.

"Arthur brought me in here one day when it was raining. The roof was leaking, and I stepped through the floor," said Arthur's wife, Karla. "There were tears in my eyes, and I said 'Arthur you didn't pay money for this place?"

The building had to be stripped all the way down, and a structural engineer came in to help figure out which beams needed to be replaced.

European bridge trusses had been used in the building, which are very similar to the trusses used today, but such structures were uncommon during the time in which the factory was constructed.

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Antiques and other items fill the inside of the renovated building.

All lumber was bought to match the original wood, with the help of Culpepper Lumber Company in Thomson.

While the factory was in use, chutes were used to blow sawdust and such under the factory instead of out into the yard. This process made for a cleaner yard, but the floor had to be taken up so that all the sawdust could be cleaned out and the floor could sit on solid ground.

Finally, all the fire safety devices, electric wiring, windows and doors were replaced, and an acre of new tin was brought in to cover the building.

Mrs. Grimaud said that several people have come by to comment on the renovation that either worked in the factory themselves or have relatives that did. Mr. Grimaud pointed out the building's size as a drawing point.

"It's probably the only building in town that can hold 1,736 people at the same time," he said.

Now, the building is used to showcase local artists' work, collectibles, and antiques. It is named Fannie and Marie's at the Tracks after both the Grimauds' mothers. The building has been used for several recent events such as Thomson's Taste of Fall and as the registration area for a bass fishing tournament.

While he enjoyed restoring the building, Mr. Grimaud said that he was glad he could finally relax and appreciate the facility.

"It's almost to the point where we can breathe a little bit and enjoy it," he said.

Staff Writer Kristopher Wells contributed to this article.



Web posted on Thursday, December 29, 2005











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