GIRARD — The building at 102 N. Ozark, downtown Girard, has gone through several owners and many changes. It’s currently undergoing major surgery that will transform it into a vibrant part of community life.

GIRARD — The building at 102 N. Ozark, downtown Girard, has gone through several owners and many changes. It’s currently undergoing major surgery that will transform it into a vibrant part of community life.

The property, part of the Charles Roye Trust, was donated to the City of Girard by the property owner.

“We’ll have a committee will look at the building and come back to the City Council with recommendations,” said Maurice Harley, Girard mayor. “Senior citizens will be a priority, and the committee will look at how to facilitate them in the building. The Girard Chamber of Commerce will also be in there.”

He added that space is also planned for an “incubator” area which would provide office space for start-up businesses.

“If there’s any space left after that, we’ll examine the possibility of having some kind of civic center, an open meeting space,” Harley said.

The first step in renovating the building, at an estimated cost of $200,000, was to gut the interior, which had been divided into numerous rooms.

“There were walls, halls and doors everywhere,” said Tom McLeod, Girard codes compliance officer. “I think there were around 24 doors. The workmen had to cut through the walls with a power saw from the Girard Fire Department.”

He thinks the renovation will turn out well.

“I can kind of envision this, and I think people will be amazed when they get it done,” McLeod said.

The building, which stands on a site formerly occupied by a historic hotel, was built in the 1970s by Clayton Adair.

“It was the Keys Hotel, and a very busy place, a hub of commercial activity,” he said. “Traveling salesmen, which were called drummers in those days, would come in by railroad, hire a horse and wagon to take their inventory to the hotel, and set up shop. Stores from all over Girard would come and place their orders.”

But, by the time Adair bought the old hotel, its best days were long past.

“I couldn’t do anything with the building because it had deteriorated,” he said. “I had it studied carefully, and was told that it would cost a million dollars to renovate, and this was back in the 1970s.”

Though he regretted it, Adair had to tear down the hotel and build a new structure.

“We did business there over 30 years, and at our busiest we had 18 employees,” he said. “I did realty in the corner office, and we also sold hardware and had the Adair Construction Co. We built 48 houses from that location.”

He also operated the Construction Supply Co. and Modern Heating and Cooling, using a larger structure to the rear of the office building.

After he retired, Adair sold his building to a doctor who practiced there for several years before leaving Girard. After that it was sold to Charles Roye, who operated Galaxy Energy, a natural gas company.

“We enjoyed that building very much and it served us well,” Adair said. “I hope it will serve the community well.”