George Appel was traveling in Scotland last year when he received a message that a natural gas drilling truck had wedged itself into the front porch of a historic building he has been restoring in Beallsville.
The truck caused the second-floor porch at the National Hotel to dip, requiring it to be propped up at Route 40 and Maiden Street.
A dip in the upper side porch that had been there “back in the horse-and-buggy days” also needed to be leveled as Appel worked to put the building back to the way it appeared when constructed in the 1830s.
“I’m doing it out of love,” said Appel, who has been a stone mason for four decades.
To reveal the bricks at the hotel, workers used propane torches and putty knives to remove layer upon layer of paint that had been applied to the building’s exterior.
The plan calls for Appel’s wife, Kelly, to open a deli and bakery in the hotel’s storefront space. The third floor will hold two apartments, while the second will have one and three bed-and-breakfast rooms.
The hotel along Route 40 made history when thousands of people turned out there June 22, 1861, to bid fond wishes to members of the reorganized Ringgold Calvary when it entered the Civil War.
Appel also bought the former Miller’s Private Bank across the street, a building dating to 1873 that also is being restored into apartments and possibly an office.
Years of pollution had darkened that building’s bricks. Now that it’s been cleaned and its masonry repaired, the bricks almost look new.
“I’ve gotten so many restoration jobs because of that building,” Appel said.
James E. Miller opened the bank and it went on to survive a bank robbery and the 1929 stock market crash that began the Great Depression, according to the Washington County Historical Society. It was the last privately owned bank in Washington County when the Millers closed the business in 1933.
The Miller bank made local headlines when it was robbed Dec. 21, 1919, and burglars cracked the safe with acetylene. They stole about $5,000 before something frightened them away, the society said.
Sandy Mansmann, a coordinator at Washington County History & Landmarks Foundation, said Appel is an artist who also restored an old stone house “inside and out” near Bethlehem-Center High School in Deemston.
“That was a huge undertaking, Mansmann said. “He’s an old-time craftsman, and he knows what he is doing,” Mansmann said.