Recognizes Sweeney Construction Corporation on 1008 Fish Hatchery Road

*This article appeared in The Newsletter Of the Madison Trust For Historic Preservation – September 1991.

What is now the headquarters of Sweeney Construction Corporation began life as Dad’s Root beer Bottling Plant.  It was built by Harold Rickhoff, a local Dad’s franchiser, in 1947. A large stainless steel bottling machine was located in the big curved window and a large root beer bottle sat atop the portico over the front door.

In 1957 the property became Warner Young Co.l, a Studebaker Dealership.  Studebaker folded nationally around 1964 and the exact history from that point becomes fuzzy.  Other known uses of the building are: heating contractor, patent attorney, and, most recently before renovation, prosthesis maker.

Tom Sweeney and his brothers, Tim and Mike, formed Sweeney Construction Corp. in June of 1987.  The company’s target market is repair and remodeling of commercial retail, office, restaurant and health care facilities.  They also do residential work. Even though an outlying location might have been cheaper, the brothers purchased the building at 1008 Fish Hatchery because it met their functional requirements, it had high visibility, and the interesting 1940s modern architecture with its sweeping curves would let them create the “image” building they wanted for their business.

As the building was in poor condition, renovation required total gutting and all new mechanical and electrical services.  The original concrete block and curving windows had been covered (probably in the 1970s) with vertical “harvest gold” metal siding.  This and a fake mansard roof of cedar shakes, totally obliterated the buildings’ distinctive design. Inside, the covered windows made the front office portion exceptionally dark and unpleasant.  The Sweeney’s worked with designers Harry Krueger and Mark Heinrichs to develop a design that brought back the original horizontal, streamlined appearance. The metal siding and fake roof were torn off and the grand curving windows were replaced with new frames and glazing.  The exterior was surfaced in a neutral stucco-like finish, and a horizontal fascia and “deco” detailing were added in contrasting earth tones with a splash of lively teal. The effect is quite handsome. Although the detailing is not part of the building’s original design, it complements and enhances it nicely.  Inside, the 3000 sq. ft. of office space was redone with extensive use of curves to echo the exterior lines.