The Gaston Livery is a two-story stable that was built around 1893, constructed out of locally made brick. Not only is it one of only five all brick barns in South Carolina, but it has one of only four known carriage lifts in the United States. The structure is also U-shaped which also makes the stable quite unique.
The structure is owned by the Friends of the Gaston Livery which is a nonprofit organization with a mission to protect it from demolition or neglect as well as restore the barn for the community to use and enjoy. Future plans for the stable, located off east Richland Avenue, include a living history park and museum.The Gaston Livery Stable was recently added to the City of Aiken Historic Register as a landmark property.
The final Gaston Livery barn cat was unveiled at Bone-i-fide Bakery on Tuesday and is now on display in one of the windows of the downtown store. “Lou” is the last of 28 cat statues that were painted by local artists and will be auctioned off later to benefit the historic Gaston Livery Stable.
This cat was sponsored by Jack Wetzel, and the artist was Ron Buttler. The grey and white, long-haired feline statue was inspired by Wetzel’s cat Lou who lived a long, adventurous life of 18 years and passed away in 2005.
“He was the best cat I ever had,” Wetzel said.
Buttler had two photographs of Lou to work with and said it was an interesting challenge to take a “short-haired” cat statue and give it the effect of having long hair to resemble Wetzel’s feline.
Buttler had wanted to paint one of the barn cats which is a project headed by the Friends of the Gaston Livery, but, when it was first announced, he didn’t have the time. Friends’ President Coleen Reed later contacted him and said she needed one more volunteer to bring life to the blank, cat-shaped statue. He accepted and said he’s happy to be a part of this project.
Wetzel said that Buttler did a great job and was quite happy with the final product.
Carly Jordan, owner of Bone-i-fide Bakery, is excited to have one of the barn cats displayed in her window which is adjacent to the store’s feline adoption area. “It’s fitting,” Jordan said. “We’ve got this cat for the window and the real ones in the other window.”
The 28 barn cats are temporarily on display at different downtown businesses.
On April 13, the Friends of the Gaston Livery Stable will hold the Cats’ Meow Gala & Auction at the Aiken County Historical Museum from 7 to 11 p.m. The barn cats will be auctioned at that time to help pay down the mortgage on the Gaston Livery Stable. Admission is $30 per person and $50 per couple. Food, live music and a cash bar will be part of the event. Tickets are available at the door but can be purchased in advance at Wesley’s Automotive SVC., 925 Park Ave. S.E. or the Aiken County Historical Museum located at 433 Newberry St. S.W. For more information, visit www.gastonliverystable.com.