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Renovation Under Way on Thinnest Building

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The developers are turning the upper two floors of the complex into 52 apartments. The street level will house offices of the Council for America's First Freedom, which owns the properties.

The L-shaped complex is directly north of a group of buildings that housed the Virginia General Assembly from 1780 to 1788. It was there that the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom was enacted in 1786. To honor that event, the locally-based Council for America's First Freedom plans to erect a First Freedom Center on the site, dedicated to religious freedom issues and education.

Generally considered to be downtown's narrowest building, 1321 « E. Main was built in 1873, not long after the Civil War evacuation fire of 1865. For a number of years in the 1870s and '80s it housed Baldwin & Jenkins' Boots and Shoes company.

But the sleek building is somewhat deceiving. It's essentially a long corridor that leads to a second building in back. It is this second building that provides the first with access to a city sidewalk and a coveted Main Street address.

In its reincarnation, the "corridor" building will be transformed into a series of conference rooms. "But plans continue to change," says council spokeswoman Laura Baliles. Renovations are expected to be complete in spring 2006. — Edwin Slipek Jr.





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