One of the oldest buildings in downtown Abbeville is getting new life.

Contractors have been busy gutting out and repairing the old Midway building, which is at least 100 years old.

James Noel Sr., owner of Sunrise Realty, purchased the building from Gerald Libersat Sr. a few months ago.

It has been closed for 12 years and was the first location for El Camino Restaurant.

For many years it was known as the Midway – a place to drink and eat in Abbeville. Harry Bohrer owned the building when it was the Midway.

While construction is underway, Noel is not 100 percent sure what he wants to do with the building. His dream is for someone to open an Italian restaurant in the building.

“What I would like is a nice Italian restaurant,” Noel said. “A restaurant with white tablecloths, where people can come here, relax and eat.”

His dream also includes having tables outside on the sidewalk so everyone could enjoy the downtown scenery as they dine.

Another wish is to have a cigar bar in the back of the restaurant.

But Noel made it clear, he has no plans to open a restaurant. He is in the process of getting the building ready in hopes of finding someone wanting to open a new restaurant in Abbeville.

Over the last month, contractors have had to repair the holes in the brick walls. Beams that hold the roof inside of the building needed to be changed because they were rotting.

The brick walls, which are three bricks deep, will remain. New windows will be installed.

He upgraded the bathrooms and has plans to upgrade the kitchen area with appliances. A heating and air condition unit is also being installed in the next month.

Noel said he would like to have the building ready to lease by March 1.

Charlene Beckett, who is the Main Street Program Manager for Abbeville, is thrilled that the abandoned building is taking on new life. “Having a vacant building come to life is one the most exciting things to happen to a downtown,” said Beckett. “As silly as it sounds, I think buildings talk to me and ask me to please fi nd someone to live, work and play in the building.”

Another dream of his is that whoever opens a new restaurant in the building will keep the name “Midway” in the new name of the business. “Midway is part of the history of Abbeville,” Noel said.

Published 1.29.17, Abbeville Meridional
by Chris Rosa