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Hartselle Enquirer

Chamber foundation buys old Hartselle post office, fundraising continues 

By Katie Steele  

For the Enquirer  


 The effort to preserve and renovate the old downtown Hartselle post office has moved forward with the purchase of the property by a nonprofit that hopes to turn it into a community center and new Hartselle Area Chamber of Commerce headquarters. 

Hartselle for Tomorrow, a Hartselle Chamber of Commerce foundation, closed on the 84-year-old post office building on June 23. 

“We entered into a loan agreement, we took out a mortgage basically, to be able to secure it,” said Missy Evans, the foundation’s secretary and Hartselle Area Chamber of Commerce president. 

She said the foundation purchased the property at 113 Sparkman St. N.W. for $115,000 from local businessman James Chapman, owner of Lektron Inc.  She said the foundation has raised about 25% of its roughly $200,000 goal to cover purchase of the post office and development of architectural plans.  

“We are still working toward raising those (remaining) funds,” said Evans. “We went ahead and got a mortgage on it so it can be in our name and we can continue that fundraising.” 

Basic renovations will be needed to bring the building up to code. In addition to those, more renovations will be done to achieve Hartselle for Tomorrow’s vision for the building. Evans said the building is “unusable” at the moment, but they will repair any problems and add other features that will benefit the community. She estimated renovations will cost $800,000 to $1 million. 

“We see this as a long-term project (with) several phases of fundraising to be able to accomplish that larger goal,” she said. 

Mayor Randy Garrison believes the project will benefit the community through the resources that will be available at the renovated building. 

“I think it’ll be great if they’re able to renovate the building while also saving the old building and are able to offer more services to folks in Hartselle,” he said. 

The foundation plans to add an event space, a conference room for small businesses to utilize, historic displays, art displays to promote local interest in art, and more. They also hope to provide entrepreneurial services for the growth of small businesses. The building will be the “new home for the chamber,” Evans said. 

The foundation does not have a date set to start renovations on the building, which was constructed in 1939, according to Morgan County Revenue Commission records. The building includes about 7,000 square feet in its basement and first floor. 

“We probably won’t (set a date to begin renovations) until we’ve settled our purchase price and started developing a fundraising strategy for those (renovation) funds,” she said. 

They plan to maintain as many historical aspects of the building as possible. 

“It will not be 100% historically accurate, but we will do our best to preserve as much of that as possible,” she said. 

Garrison is not worried about the building’s historical components being preserved. “I think (Hartselle for Tomorrow) will be able to handle it,” he said. 

Although Hartselle for Tomorrow works in partnership with the Hartselle Area Chamber of Commerce, Evans said “it is its own separate entity, and that foundation is who purchased the building.” 

Making the old post office a community resource was what started Hartselle for Tomorrow, but there are other goals of the foundation that have developed over time. 

“As the foundation was established and we became educated on what a foundation like this can do, it’s really expanded,” Evans said. She said they now have realized it can benefit Hartselle by providing leadership programs, opportunities to fund education, workforce development, artistic growth and historical preservation. 

“We see it being multi-useful, being able to help with promoting the things we love in Hartselle and telling the Hartselle story,” she said. Evans said she is excited to be apart of a foundation that can create “pathways to opportunity.” 

She said the foundation does not yet know what “is next on the list” after the post office project, but the community resources they will provide will “make the place of Hartselle better as well as the people of Hartselle better.” 

Hartselle Utilities had used the old post office building until vacating it in 2002 and moving to its current facility on North Sparkman Street. Chapman purchased the property from Hartselle Utilities in 2013. Evans said he sold it to the foundation for only what he paid for the property and spent on maintaining it. 

Information on donating for the project is available at hartsellechamber.com/hartselle-for-tomorrow-foundation. 



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