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6:19 AM Tue, Nov. 20th

Project breathes life back into Ash Fork building

ASH FORK – Lewis Hume fondly remembers visiting the Ash Fork Maintenance Building as a young man many years ago.

Standing in front of a crowd celebrating the renovation of the building on Thursday, Hume recalled looking around the former Arizona Department of Transportation garage.

"Soot on the walls, dirt on the floor and I can remember that," Hume said, "and to see it come to this and preserve it and continue to use it in our community, I think is a great thing."

Ash Fork residents, county officials and a representative with contractor NCCI were among those celebrating the renovation project that has transformed the building into a transportation museum, community center and tourist information center.

Byron Jaspers, project manager for the county, said improvements to the 7,100-square-foot building include new roof insulation, about 100 panes of glass, new lights, fans and heaters.

The Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) handled the hazardous materials cleanup of asbestos and lead, Jaspers added, "and we painted everything we could see."

Jaspers said he is proud of the result. "Good pro-jects come in all sizes," he said, "and this was a great project. Everybody worked together and it really worked out well and I think it's a very beautiful building."

An ADOT enhancement grant paid for the roughly $166,000 renovation of the building, which was constructed in the 1920s.

The Ask Fork Historical Society, the Ash Fork Development Association (AFDA), Summer Youth Work Program and the Ash Fork Fire District are responsible for maintenance of the structure.

Ferine Hume, president of the AFDA, said it's the only building in the community that is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Hume said her husband motivated her to save the building before officials bulldozed it.

"It is special because it's part of our history and we're glad to be part of it to save it," she said.

Hume, an Ash Fork resident for more than 50 years, said the building was once the main ADOT workshop for Route 66.

"It was open 24 hours," she said. "The mechanics lived here. It was a very busy place."

Hume thanked the county, ADOT and the community for working together to make the project work.

"We're going to have a lot more things now that it's nice and clean and warm," she said.

Contact the reporter at jsoifer@prescottaz.com