Lollipop Shop to move into historic storefront
By Lynn J. Richardson
While the Old Sweet Shop building has a new owner, one of the benefactors of that building has died.
The historic building, located at 129 E. Main St., was donated to the Heritage Alliance of Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia by Jonesborough residents Bernard and Audrey Kaiman.
Bernard Kaiman, a leader of Jonesborough’s historic preservation efforts, died late last week.
“He will be greatly missed,” said Heritage Alliance Executive Director Deborah Montanti. “He was truly a pioneer for preservation in Jonesborough.”
In 1970, the Kaimans bought the building — the old Rhea Lodge No. 47 — which now houses the Old Sweet Shop, a longtime ice cream parlor.
The Kaimans donated the building to the Heritage Alliance earlier this year.
While the organization was honored and thrilled to be gifted with the building, Montanti said the renovations needed within the structure convinced the organization it would be best to put the property up for sale.
According to reports, Jeff Gurley, owner of The Lollipop Shop, was the successful bidder and will take possession of the building pending the property’s scheduled closing date at the end of May.
Gurley would neither confirm nor deny the purchase when contacted by the Herald & Tribune.
Montanti would only confirm that the accepted bid came “from someone local” and that the Heritage Alliance feels confident “everything will proceed to a successful conclusion.”
She would not comment on the purchase price.
“We honestly think we got strong bids,” she said. “We were very pleased with the bids we received. Making a choice was a matter of determining how the bidders planned to use the building and how that use fits with our mission and what we feel is best for town.”
It remains unclear what will become of The Old Sweet Shop. The business’ owner, Trish St. Jean, could not be reached for comment at press time.
The Heritage Alliance accepted sealed bids through April 15. On April 25, the organization’s Board of Trustees gathered to open and review the offers.
The building’s restoration will be a legacy of Bernard Kaiman’s many preservation efforts in the community, Montanti said, including holding some of the earliest public meetings to generate enthusiasm for preservation and writing a regular column in the Herald & Tribune called, “Restoration News and Views.”
Kaiman was one of the survey team charged with identifying Jonesborough’s most significant structures and marking them for restoration. That effort led to the nomination that put Jonesborough’s Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places in 1969. He also helped found the Jonesborough Civic Trust — a predecessor of the Heritage Alliance — and became the first chair of that organization.
Under Kaiman’s leadership, both Jonesborough Days and the National Storytelling Festival were created and the Christopher Taylor Cabin was saved from demolition.