When Thomas and Gail Leggett bought the building at the corner of Main and Railroad streets that now houses a pawn shop, people thought they were crazy.
The building in downtown Hiram was rundown when the Leggetts took possession of it. The lower windows were boarded up, and wood and other debris was littered around the front and side of the dilapidated structure. But the Leggetts took on the challenge, cleaned up the property and restored the building.
“People say, ‘You did that much work?’” Gail Leggett said.
The building was constructed in 1907. It served as Hiram’s first telephone exchange and, at one point, it was where residents went to purchase caskets. The Leggetts bought the building from Dan Purcell in 1991, and that’s when the renovations began.
“People thought we were crazy,” Leggett said. “We just went crazy.”
When the couple, their two sons and friends began to work on the building, they discovered several molasses tanks that had been left inside—two large ones and one that was half-size. To get the tanks out, a long chain was thrown over the building and then tied to a 1966 Army truck. The tanks had to be turned upside down to be pulled out the door, which caused the molasses to spill out of them.
“People thought it was tar or oil,” Thomas Leggett said.
That fear prompted residents to want to call the Environmental Protection Division, but the molasses simply washed away when the rain came.
Later that year, the building reopened as City Pawn. The Leggetts moved their pawn shop from the area where Wal-Mart now stands on Jimmy Lee Smith Parkway. They operated the business until 2003, when they leased the building to Carmen and Pep Rollins, who now run Main Street Pawn.
“They asked if they could take over the business, and I said, ‘Sure,’” Gail Leggett said. “I had done it for 19 years.”
The building is one of three historic structures that the couple owns in downtown Hiram.