SHARON, Pa. (WKBN) — From the outside, the Buhl Club on East Street in Sharon looks like it did when it opened in 1903. Big and stately — something you’d expect from a steel baron like Frank Buhl. Inside, a lot of it was original, too. But now — 119 years later — the Buhl Club is in the midst of a major renovation.
Tile was being cut and hung Monday in what will be the new cardio and weight room while a new men’s bathroom was also under construction. It’s all part of a $6.5 million renovation.
“It’s long overdue and I think that’s why the community chipped in and has been so generous to make this happen,” said Jason Kmick, Executive Director of the Buhl Club.
Kmick showed why the renovation was needed. In the original 119-year-old men’s shower room and steam bath, the steel beams had rotted away to a point where there was concern the floor could collapse.
“So the only way to fix it properly was to take it all the way out and then put new I-beams all back in and build it all back up from scratch,” said Kmick.
When possible, items original to the Buhl Club will be saved — like the wooden lockers, wooden doors, and the original tile floor. One thing new, however, will be a youth center.
“This is going to be a brand new addition to the Buhl Club. The Buhl Club has evolved a little bit to be a little bit more of an adult facility. So we’re trying to bring back the youth,” said Kmick.
A new lobby is also being built, as are new second-floor restrooms, and an elevator.
There have been surprises, like when a wall from the 1967 addition of a gym and swimming pool was removed, it uncovered the block from the side of the original building. They thought about keeping it exposed then thought again.
“No, unfortunately, it just became overly complicated to be able to do it that way,” said Kmick.
This will be the second phase of a three-phase renovation plan — the first of which was opening a child care center. Phase three will take another $2 million for renovations to the exterior, parking lot, and upgrades to the swimming pool.
“This is setting this organization up for the next 100 years. Getting it done. Getting it done right. We’ve got great contractors. So getting this place ready to go for the next generation,” said Kmick.
This second phase of the Buhl Club renovation project was made possible through the donations of about 60 people and $2 million from the Buhl Regional Health Foundation.
Fundraising for the third phase started with a $500,000 state grant.