By Joseph Pratt
With the majority of the buildings in downtown Portsmouth being historic, it is important for owners to maintain and upkeep every aspect in order to assure not only the longevity of the space, but the safety of the community. When it comes to dedicated shop owners and landlords, Ghosts in the Attic, at 518 Second Street, are on top of it.
The group has spent recent years renovating and improving its newer space, after moving from previous storefront on the corner of Second and Court Streets. The move and renovations have opened more space and has created an impressive antique outlet mall that hosts a space for 48 locals in over 100 booths on three floors.
Sharon Bender owns Ghosts in the Attic and has been involved in antiques since 1988. Bender says the decision to move into their current building was due to a disagreement with the previous owner of their last building. The new building was more affordable and offered more opportunity for growth.
“We are constantly trying to work on more improvements,” Bender said. “Every opportunity we can think of to grow, we go ahead and try to do it. This ranges from adding the water fountain for guests to more space for vendors. We just love our vendors and our guests and we would do the world for them.”
The renovations and upkeep of the building is done through a partnership between Bender and the 48 vendors, as well as the building owners. The massive group of people has remodeled and opened two additional floors, worked on lighting and electrical needs, has inspected for various infrastructure needs and plan on keeping up with repairs as they come along.
The most recent, and obvious, renovation came last week during a project that painted the entire exterior of the building.
The project cost $7,490, $3,735 of which was granted to them through Main Street Portsmouth.
“As the Main Street organization of Portsmouth, it is our responsibility to invest, empower, and preserve our downtown area,” Director Sarah Surina said. “It is encouraging when building owners come to us and are looking for help in these aspects.”
The building was purchased by husband and wife teams Becky and Scott Riser and Janet and Roger Tieman in 2011, who have since assisted in opening the second and third floors and providing further updates to the building.
Becky and Janet oversee everything with the building and claim it has been a fun mission and a labor of love. The two were vendors in the shop before buying the building. They quickly needed more and more space and became very invested in the store. The owner of the building then put it up for sale and the many vendors became panicked and worried about the future of their business.
“People were looking at it for different reasons and we were scared someone would buy it for something other than antiques,” Tieman said. “We were both born and raised in the area and we just love it. We love antiques and historic buildings. We are always looking at longevity and we want to take care of what we have. We are looking at the roof next. It isn’t currently bad, but we want to get to it before it does.”
Riser agrees with her partner about sustaining the building, especially with two recent collapses and other issues rising in the area.
“The recent history of buildings in the area falling is concerning and we just want to make sure we are doing all we can,” Riser said. “We love our building and we want to keep it.”
The two said that there are two more floors, one with a skylight, but have no current plans on renovating or using the space at this time.
“We are just enjoying our space,” Riser said. “We aren’t too worried about adding anything else, other than the upkeep we already have on the first three floors.”
Reach Joseph Pratt at 740-353-3101, ext. 1932, or by Twitter @JosephPratt03.