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July 7, 2006

Governor Fletcher announces $280,000 new funding
for Neal Building restoration

Article from The Nicholas Countian & The Carlisle Mercury

Neal Building Restoration
The City of Carlisle is to receive $280,000 in Kentucky Transportation Cabinet funding to complete the restoration of the historic Neal Building on West Main Street. The funding will be used to complete the final phase of the restoration, including the installation of HVAC, lighting, an elevator, and restrooms.

Governor Ernie Fletcher and the Transportation Cabinet last week announced the approval of more than $11.9 million for transportation-related projects in 46 communities, including the Neal Building restoration project.

“I am committed to improving the quality of life for the residents of Carlisle and Nicholas County and for all Kentuckians,” said Governor Fletcher, “and these projects help me fulfill that commitment. By choosing quality projects that preserve our history and promote the commonwealth’s scenic beauty and healthy living, we are moving Kentucky communities forward.”

Representative Carolyn Belcher, who represents Nicholas Countians in the Kentucky General Assembly, said, "This is great news for Carlisle and Nicholas County. It has been such a publicly-supported project, and this success can be contributed to everyone's hard work and great efforts."

According to Bob Garvin, with the authorization of the $280,000 funding, it may be expected that work on the Neal Building will be such that the first phase can be opened to the public in the fall of this year and the remainder completed within 18 months.

The announcements mark the awarding of projects chosen to be funded through the federal government’s Transpor-tation Equity Act for the 21st Century, or TE-21 program. Kentucky’s share of federal funds is administered by the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet.

The TE-21 program provides the opportunity to undertake unique and creative transportation-related projects in local communities across Kentucky. Communities and organizations across the state submitted more than $100 million in requests for TE-21 projects.

J. T. Sims built what is now known as the Neal Building in 1883, establishing Mozart Hall upstairs for theater, debate and music programs. In September of 1887, for example, The original Peck's Bad Boy was performed in the hall.

According to one account, before the audience, waiting impatiently below, was admitted to Mozart Hall for a performance, two large chandeliers of wagon wheel design were lowered, the lights were cleaned and filled with oil, the wicks prepared, the lights lighted, and the chandeliers pulled up and secured.

Mozart Hall was closed around 1902 because of safety concerns. The stage was removed, but old posters advertising coming shows remain visible.

The first floor of the building held a variety store called Noah's Ark and, in the late 1800's, the west end of the building was home to Brooks Hat Shop.

Beginning in 1932, the Neal family operated a business in the location. Neal's Square Deal, a grocery "where Ma saves Pa's dough," was succeeded by the Kentucky Food Store.

Over a period of many years the store evolved into Neal's Store, a happily old-fashioned general store operated by Eugene Neal. Populated frequently by a thoughtful, loquacious group of gentlemen in rocking chairs at the front, it provided an eclectic assortment of goods and a haven for visitors admiring the Model T Ford and other treasures that had been saved by the delightful and beloved Mr. Neal.

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