Camas building restored to former glory

CID Bio-Science renovates historic former American Legion hall

By Susan Parrish, Columbian education reporter

Published:

 

CID Bio-Science

Where: 1554 N.E. Third Ave., Camas.

Telephone: 360-833-8835, ext. 201

On the Web:

CID Bio-Science

photoClick to enlarge.

Camas restoration

CID Bio-Science bought and renovated a derelict building on the eastern edge of Camas and recently moved into the space.

When a derelict building on the eastern edge of Camas showed fresh signs of life, neighbors stopped by to thank the new owners for restoring it.

Over its lifetime, the historic structure on Third Avenue served many purposes. In its original incarnation, as American Legion Hall Post No. 27, it was a gathering place for those returned from war and service. Later, it was a roller rink and then a neon sign company. But more recently, it sat vacant and forlorn.

CID Bio-Science bought the building in 2011, renovated it and moved in December 2012.

"For years, neighbors saw the building in its rundown state," said Suzy Truitt of CID Bio-Science. "We've brought it back to its original glory."

Leonard Felix, owner and president of CID Bio-Science, envisioned moving his business to its own building in Camas.

"When Leonard walked into this building, he fell in love with the bones," Truitt said. "Even though from the outside, the building was in bad shape, the bones were in fabulous shape."

Now restored, the building recently was listed on the Clark County Heritage Register. The nomination form describes it as a rustic Arts and Crafts structure designed in 1933 by notable architect Day Walter Hilborn. Construction of the 10,630-square-foot building was completed in 1935. Characteristic of Depression-era buildings, it's utilitarian and lacks ornamentation.

CID Bio-Science secured Hilborn's original drawings and restored the building to its original state where possible. When the original board-and-batten siding could not be salvaged, it was replaced with similar composite siding.

Inside, the false ceiling was removed to expose massive structural beams. Perched on scaffolding, craftsmen restored the fir beams by blasting them with crushed walnut shells, a less abrasive form of sandblasting. They also sanded and painted the hefty metal brackets. This was precarious work toward the ceiling peak, which is about 30 feet above the floor.

Wood from the false ceiling was repurposed to build a reception area and to create a partial wall between the main space and the employee break room. The original maple floors were refinished. Offices were built on the enclosed porch, but the original posts — including one with initials carved into it — were retained.

After being covered for years, the upper part of the windows were opened up, allowing natural light to stream in.

"Even on our gray days, there's lots of natural light in this space," Truitt said.

CID Bio-Science designs and manufactures scientific instruments for plant physiology research and exports to more than 40 countries. Prototypes and instrument hardware are manufactured in the company's lower-level machine shop.

As a finishing touch, the building's connection to the Camas paper mill, which originally owned the land, was restored. Vintage molds from the mill were converted into tables, while other molds adorn the walls.

The company hopes to lease 1,800 square feet to another small manufacturing company that also exports internationally.

Truitt expressed hope that the community will share old family photos of events in the building so they can be displayed in the gleaming space.

"Now it's just as beautiful as it was in its early days," Truitt said.

Susan Parrish: 360-735-4515; http://twitter.com/col_schools; susan.parrish@columbian.com.