ST. ALBANS CITY — Elizabeth McMahon Boudreau can’t set foot on the corner of North Main and Bank streets without smiling.
Boudreau owns that corner building, the building that currently houses Jeff’s Maine Seafood, as well as 12 apartments overhead.
“This is a dream come true for me,” Boudreau said.
J.T.’s Contracting, out of South Burlington, is currently restoring the building’s exterior, after doing what Boudreau called “unbelievable” renovation inside the building. Boudreau and her son Matthew, who acts as the building’s property manager, have already refurbished its apartments, connected a gas line and installed new windows.
“I mean, we’ve updated everything,” Boudreau said. “It’s a building to really be proud of.”
The building was constructed around 1840 in the Greek Revival style. A crew added its third floor and mansard roof about 40 years later, circa 1880, changing the building’s style to Second Empire-Italianate hybrid.
It was the first large-scale commercial building in St. Albans, according to Boudreau.
There’s even more personal history here for her. Boudreau’s parents bought the building in 1978 or ’79, and opened Country Casuals, a women’s clothing retailer. They used federal funds around that time to restore the building, which had previously housed Gladstone’s Shoes.
Boudreau and her brother inherited the building after their mother’s passing in 2012. Boudreau said she bought out her brother’s stake in the property, then began renovating its interior in 2014.
Contractors performed some exterior renovations to the building in 2017 and 2018. Boudreau said she expects J.T.’s to finish these renovations by mid-August.
A separate crew is currently constructing a new office building on the corner of Congress and North Main streets, which will house Community College of Vermont and Northwestern Medical Center offices, at the opposite corner of the street. That project and Boudreau’s renovations act as visually appealing bookends to that portion of North Main Street.
And Boudreau said it was the city government’s work that nudged her into finally fulfilling her dreams of restoration.
She said “the big push was … St. Albans redoing itself. To me, this is… a big corner piece. It’s a gorgeous building.
“And, you know, I grew up here. This is my hometown. And so I really wanted to make sure it could be the best it could be.”
Boudreau said the city government offered funding to renovate the building’s exterior. But she said it took a long time to get there due to the need for extensive renovations inside, which Boudreau funded herself.
While most of those exterior renovations are hard to miss — just look at the new accents and uniform paintjob on the building’s west side, around the Jeff’s Maine Seafood storefront, compared to the building’s south side, which is still under restoration — those passing the building on North Main Street might miss a newly reconstructed deck behind the building, which a crew rebuilt last year.
The deck connects to the building’s apartments. And even that deck holds historical meaning for Boudreau.
“That was my old apartment,” she said, watching a crew repaint the deck from Bank Street. Boudreau lived there on her own, and then continued living there with her husband, in the early 1980s.
Boudreau said she and Matthew picked out the building’s new paint colors. The building’s restored base color was its color when Boudreau’s parents owned the building.
As for the rustic red trim, Boudreau said, “My dream was always to highlight all of it, you know — to really make it pop.”
She said she was also aware that color could tie into what have become the city’s official signature colors. For example, a similar red supports signage in Taylor Park across the street.
Boudreau said she had a part in paint colors when her parents restored the building, but said she “was disappointed that they … didn’t highlight as much of it as I would like to.
“So when we got this opportunity — well, we didn’t get it, we made it — when we made this opportunity, it was really important.
“I can’t even tell you how exciting it is for me.”