New Well Continues E.E. Lake Store Restoration

December 3, 2010

The dreams of Bluemonters for over a decade are beginning to be realized with the October-November drilling of a well to supply the E.E. Lake store.

Valley Drilling, which sank the well, tapped into a flow of 30 gallons per minute at 420 feet, ample for any foreseeable needs. Now that the building has water, the remaining work on the new "Welcome Center" can begin. These tasks include bathrooms, a pump-and-haul waste system, heat and air conditioning, insulation, and a handicapped-accessible entrance. It is hoped that all this will be accomplished within a matter of months.

"Our target for opening the store is summer 2011," declared Henry Plaster, who has labored for more than a decade on the Bluemont Citizens Association (BCA) E.E. Lake Store committee. "Our plan is to have the store open primarily on weekends, staffing it with volunteers."

"The Bluemont Citizen's Association is delighted to see this project continue to move forward," said BCA president, Patti Pettit. "This project comes closer to fruition as a result of the commitment by our dedicated volunteers who have worked tirelessly throughout the past decade. The E.E. Lake Store Welcome Center will be a wonderful place to showcase the many offerings of western Loudoun. As always, the BCA encourages interested neighbors to step forward, give of your time, and volunteer within our community."

The BCA plans historic exhibits on the Civil War and Bluemont's railroad era, with artifacts and slide shows. Some commercial use is also contemplated, subject to county approval.

Over the years, BCA has obtained grants, matching funds, and in-kind contributions for the project in excess of half a million dollars. Most recently Blue Ridge Supervisor Jim Burton helped obtain matching funds of $45,000.For years, the Lake Store operated almost solely for the days of the annual Bluemont Fair, showing off the historic post office fixtures that are still in place, and providing a place to offer homemade treats, exhibit local art works, and ? for many years ? displayed the Zalewski brothers' model trains.

Under the public-private partnership that has governed reconstruction efforts for a decade or more, Loudoun County owns the well and holds title to the Lake Store itself, while BCA manages the facility. VDOT is involved as well, granting funds towards the reconstruction effort with the understanding that the building will be used as a transportation Welcome Center for western Loudoun County. The architect in charge is Melissa Poole, Loudoun County Department of Construction and Waste Management. Steve Torpy, Assistant Director of Loudoun Parks and Recreation, is responsible for county efforts.

The site plan is ready, and a structural analysis of the building is in process. Once the integrity of the building is established and the structural requirements determined, the design will be put out to construction companies for bidding. VDOT, as the guarantor of restoration funds, must sign off on these steps.

The historic emporium, located in the heart of Bluemont at the corner of Railroad Street and Snickersville Turnpike, was built byEdward E. Lake about 1901. It closed in the early 1930s except for the Post Office, which moved across the street in 1945. Randall Osburn operated a store there for two years in the 1940s.