Athens continues rebuilding one year after downtown fire
It's been a year since a fire blazed through downtown Athens, destroying some of the city's historic buildings.
"For today, just complete revitalization,” that’s what main street director Lisa Dotson said is her prayer for downtown, “That's always our prayer."
A fence still surrounds a pile of dirt where one of downtown Athens' oldest buildings used to stand. Construction equipment sits out as a clear sign renovations are still well underway.
"It feels really good that we're building back from the ashes,” Dotson said. “We're believing that there will be beauty from our ashes."
Along with construction, there are subtle reminders of what happened, too. For example, there are pictures from the fire displayed in the Greeks Bearing Gifts storefront along with a thank you to first responders.
Last July, the fire blazed through a portion of downtown destroying one historic building completely and closing four others.
Greeks Bearing Gifts was the first to reopen last November, but there's still a lot of work left to do.
"We're learning that progress is a process, and it does take a while,” Dotson said. “We're learning to be patient as a community. As a community, we've been working together."
READ MORE | Athens business reopens 4 months after fire
Crews are still renovating the Chamber of Commerce building. Once it's done, construction can begin on the adjacent building that burned down completely.
Johnson’s Furniture Store hopes to complete its renovations and re-open in the next month.
Changes Dotson believes will help revitalize this historic town.
"I think we are getting bigger and better every day," Dotson said.