Rebuilding of Rabbit Hash General Store a labor of love

04/04/2017 12:50 PM

RABBIT HASH — When the Rabbit Hash General Store, established in 1831, was gutted by fire on Feb. 13, 2016, the heart of the small Boone County community along the Ohio River was ripped out.

The store was a gathering place for the town’s citizens as well as its many visitors, and even as the timbers of the structure remained smouldering, folks in the tiny hamlet like Rabbit Hash Historical Society President Don Clare vowed that it would be rebuilt.

“Between tears and sobs, everybody was of the same opinion that we are gonna rebuild this building,” Clare said. “I mean, as impossible as it seemed, we just knew we were.”

Initial estimates put the cost of rebuilding the structure with the necessary historic integrity at up $350,000.

To get the ball rolling, Boone County resident Mike Striker, senior manager of the archeology division of the architectural firm Gray and Pape, and Harry Sparks, retired owner of Architectural Group International, donated their expertise to come up with plans for the new Rabbit Hash General Store, which would look like the original and even include some reusable pieces from the original structure.

Rabbit Hash resident Jay Brandt said that was followed by numerous fundraisers as well as donations, both large and small, from folks inside and outside the community.

“It was a full community effort. It was amazing,” Brandt said. “The people that donated money, they went on a GoFundMe page online from all over the country. The number of volunteers that came out to clean boards, pull nails and put the store back together again.”

A grand reopening ceremony took place on Saturday, and Brandt takes pride in the fact that the new structure strongly resembles the original one both inside and out.

“It’s as if we took everything off the shelves, cleaned it, painted it and put it back together,” he said.

Being on the Ohio River, the store survived numerous floods, including the Great Flood of 1937, which completely submerged the building.

While most of the other structures in town were washed way, the store survived because it was anchored to the ground by a series of iron rods that ran through the entire structure.

The Rabbit Hash General Store is open every day from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.


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