Renovated Aaron’s Building makes splash in Connellsville

Local dignitaries were greeted with a first look at the newly renovated Aaron’s Building on Monday night.

“It looks like everybody’s excited,” said Tuffy Shallenberger, owner of the building.

After years of the historic building remaining empty and falling into what many considered a state of disrepair, Shallenberger purchased the building from the city in 2013.

Since then, the first floor was turned into a banquet facility with a bar made of bricks that were removed from the top two floors; the original Aaron’s sign was refurbished; the windows were replaced using a local glass company; and other original pieces of the building were used on the first floor.

“There was a lot of effort into this,” Shallenberger said, adding that not one injury was suffered on the job and, considering the age and dangerous condition of the building, that was an amazing accomplishment.

“The finished product is unbelievable,” said Connellsville Mayor Greg Lincoln, who viewed the inside of the building when Shallenberger started the project.

Lincoln said if it weren’t for Shallenberger investing in the building and the city, they would likely have a vacant lot and would be trying to entice businesses to build on it.

“This is a game changer,” Lincoln said, adding that he will attend the public grand opening on Tuesday to hear people’s memories of what the Aaron’s Building was before it’s journey to reopening.

“This is a game changer”

Local attorney Carmine Molinaro said the last time he stepped into the building was nearly 30 years ago when the Aaron’s Building housed a furniture store.

Molinaro also remembered the building from the outside when he passed by every day walking to school.

“Beautiful brickwork,” Molinaro said, looking along the wall of the first floor with framed photos and vintage newspaper clippings of the building reaching the ceiling. “I’m glad they preserved that.”

Molinaro said it was a great preservation effort on Shallenberger’s part.

“Hat’s off to Tuffy and his crews,” Molinaro said. “They did such a marvelous job.”

The results of the renovation efforts were not lost on Guy Napolillo, a South Connellsville Borough councilman and 911 coordinator with Fayette County EMA.

Napolillo was in the building during the 1990s to check the building’s condition and even then, the building was beginning to fall down and had exposure problems.

“I’m really surprised it stood as long as it did,” Napolillo said, adding that he was impressed with the work done to the building. “This is quite a comeback.”

Shallenberger thanked the community for its support and said he hopes the efforts made on the building get things going in the right direction for the city.