Editor's note: This is the first in a series of stories about Historic Aiken Foundation award winners.

When Det and Lyanne Haislip decided to renovate the downtown Aiken building where their family business, True Value Hardware & Appliances, is located, they didn't set out to win a prize.

Their goal was to prepare the top floor of the two-story brick structure, which was a storage area, for commercial/residential use.

The results turned out better than they expected, Lyanne said, and the Haislips' efforts didn't go unnoticed.

Last month, the Historic Aiken Foundation recognized the couple with a Preservation Award for the downtown building's fašade, which includes two distinctive wrought iron balconies with kiln-dried hardwood floors.

“We are grateful and honored,” Lyanne said. “We had no idea we would qualify for such a thing.”

The Haislips made sure the names of their children, Wylie Haislip and Kaminer Haislip Quinn, were included on the plaque that they received.

Also listed on the award are the names of Kaminer's husband, Matt, and Lyanne's late parents, J.W “Bill” and Theodocia “Dody” Franklin.

“It's a family business, and everyone has contributed to its success,” Lyanne said.

The Franklins started the business in 1959. Known then as Economy Auto, it was located in Mitchell Shopping Center on Whiskey Road.

“It had a home and auto type of format,” Det said. “There were automobile parts and bicycles, and then they brought durable goods and appliances on board at some point.”

The Franklins moved their store downtown in the early 1960s. It became part of a retail chain called Otasco (Oklahoma Tire and Supply Company) for a while and operated in several locations.

The Franklins purchased the business' current building in 1974. The store became affiliated with True Value in the 1990s, according to Det.

“The front of the building has been here in its present form since 1888,” he said.

The structure has 7,500 square feet of space on each of its two floors.

“We knew what we wanted downstairs, which is what we've got, a hardware and appliance store,” Det said. “But we needed to make use of the space upstairs and we had numerous conversations over the years with family members, including my mother-in-law and father-in-law.”

According to Lyanne, her parents were visionaries, who believed that increasing the population density in downtown Aiken would strengthen the area's appeal. They were involved in developing residential lofts in some of the buildings.

The True Value structure's facelift was “a way for the family to move on in a positive and constructive fashion after my father died in March 2010,” Lyanne said. “It also was a way to fulfill the dream he had about renovating the front of the building and doing something upstairs that would be income-producing for 7,500 square feet of downtown property.

Work began on the project in December 2011 after the Aiken Design Review Board approved the Haislips' plan. The building's fašade was completed last fall.

“The truth is, I don't know how much we spent; it was a lot of money,” Lyanne said. “But a (City of Aiken) Fašade Grant (of $10,000) gave us a start.”

The Haislips also had help in turning their vision for the building into reality from architects Martin Buckley and McDonald Lawrence, contractor J.D. Cooper, designer Helen Kelley, engineer Josh Stewart and others.

“We had shelving and different metal fixtures that had accumulated upstairs for many years, so during the demolition part of the process, we were moving tons of recyclable metals,” Det said. “We had five or six pickup loads just from the tiles we removed from what turned out to be ash and pine floors.”

Other work involved opening back up the six windows that had been filled in with bricks following a fire in 1952 and turning two of the windows into doors that would provide access to the balconies.

Chuck Graham of New Ellenton made the balconies, which each weigh 700 pounds and measure 12 feet across by 5 feet deep.

“They were installed one at a time, of course, and they had to block off the street,” Det said. “There was a crowd downtown watching; we had everything but the organ grinder and the dancing monkey.”

The Haislips sought customer input when they were selecting the fašade's Georgian green paint. Lyanne gave Kelley credit for the decision to decorate the building's metal canopy with black and white stripes.

Further work is scheduled for the second floor.

“Next, we're going to create some office space and possibly some residential space for people,” Det said. “We have plans right now for a total of four units.”

True Value Hardware & Appliances is located at 121 Laurens St. S.W.