Update: Because of the forecast of extreme cold temperatures, Saturday’s ribbon-cutting ceremony has been postponed. A new date has not been announced.
Bluemont’s historic E.E. Lake General Store will hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 6, as part of its grand reopening celebration.
The building’s reopening comes nearly 80 years after shutting its doors for operation as a store. During the past 15 months, county government contractors have been making improvements to the building’s wood frame structure, HVAC system, restrooms, parking lot, along with general building code updates.
In 1996, Robert Higgins sold the building to the county for $1 in an effort to move forward with renovations. At the same time, the Bluemont Citizens Association agreed with the Board of Supervisors to handle preservation, improvement and operation of the property. In October 2016, the county hired the Lantz Construction Co. to carry out $568,000 worth of renovations. The refurbished building will now serve as a Bluemont-area welcome center and as a rest stop for bicyclists and tourists passing through the village.
The store was built and run by Edward E. Lake at the turn of the 20th century. At that time, it had two stories, a hip-roof and clapboard siding. For three decades, it served as the grocery store for Bluemont residents and visitors. It even housed a branch of the Loudoun National Bank of Leesburg for the first six years, before the safe was blown up. After closing in the early 1930s, it was reopened a decade later for just two years. Until 1945, the store also acted as the area post office.
Throughout that time, the building featured an upstairs hall with seating for 500 that was often used for dances. In recent years, the citizens association has opened it to the public during the Bluemont Fair weekend in late summer. The building today is a large component of the Bluemont National Register Historic District and is also within the county’s Historic and Cultural Conservation District.
Visitors will be invited to take tours of the building immediately following the ceremony on Saturday.