Plans to restore historical Winnsboro building damaged by fire

By Rochelle Dean - email

WINNSBORO, SC (WIS) - A fire that damaged a popular Winnsboro hangout has left a void.

The owner said she now has plans for the historic Thespian Hall. They're plans she hopes will bring it back to life. "Still very disappointed," said owner Edna Ruff, "I can't believe it. It's like a death."

Ruff may have owned the Tavern that was housed inside of the historic Thespian Hall, but she said it belonged to an entire community of people who are still saddened over the fire that ripped through the structure, leaving it gutted. "People are still calling me and coming by crying," said Ruff, "They want it back up."

It used to be a meeting place for family gatherings, like weddings and private holiday parties. Now it's sectioned off with yellow tape, surrounded by orange fencing. The smell of soot was still strong even weeks later.

While city council members have now given Ruff 90 days to decide if the building will be torn down or refurbished, she already has plans of breathing life back into a building that once was a breath of fresh air for so many others. "As long as we keep it they're okay," said Ruff, "They want to come by and go to the bar and eat. They want to ride by and see the building intact...I want the same thing."

Ruff said a preliminary report from fire officials showed the fire may have been electrical in nature, but much of the building can still be saved. She said she spoke with potential buyers who she hopes will buy the property and restore it to its original condition.

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