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Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Exeter sees improvements at the Smith Index Tag Factory
The historic tag factory in downtown Exeter has recently received some maintenance attention.
Owners, Seth and Robin Jones, of San Diego, spent a week in Exeter recently making major repairs to the roof and structure of the building and giving the visible front a mini facelift. They purchased the building about three years ago, sight unseen.
This winter the building had a roof cave in that damaged all four floors of the building. The Jones’, along with Seth parents, Howard and Kathy Jones of Oregon, spent a week hauling trash out of the building starting in the basement.
After the broken plaster, old beams and metal were pulled from the building they started in the basement rebuilding the ceiling structure, working their way back up to replacing the roof trusses and supports.
After the majority of those repairs were made the group brightened up the front of the building repainting the windows and covering some broken windows with steel sheeting to protect the interior of the building and prevent more glass breakage.
The Jones’ have an online business selling old car parts and have some of the parts housed in the building but hope to use the central location for more storage.
“We would love ideas from the locals on what kind of facilities are needed in the area,” said Seth Jones. “We would like to close off the front of the building to use for some sort of retail space. We would build to suit if the interest was there.”
In addition to more cleaning in the building the Jones’ hope to remove the front brick corner that was added on to the building bringing it back to it’s original charm.
They plan on reserving a section of the building for a small museum about the tag factory that was housed in the building from 1884 to 1962. Many historical items were removed from the building and given to the Fillmore County Historical Society with the condition that if the building were ever restored the relevant items would be returned upon request.
Still evident in the building were many production items from the tag factory, old records and files, as well as the two walk in safes, located on different floors. In the unlit basement the old air compressor with very large pulleys still sits in its location just in front of an old tunnel that hasn’t been explored in years.
Local historian and member of the Fillmore County Historical Society Shirley Trauger visited with the Jones’ during their stay in Exeter and was thrilled with their ownership, “I hope to see the building restored as much as possible and open to the public. It was the world’s first index tag factory - we should be proud of that and show it off,” said Trauger.
The younger Jones’ travel all over the country with their parts business but spend the majority of their time in San Diego where they own and operate an environmental consulting business.
Currently the tag factory is not on the Historical Registry and the Jones’ have contemplated that option, but are concerned about restrictions that would be placed on any changes they might want to make to the building along with the costs of restoration.
Posted by Leesa Bartu at 8:14 AM