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Hartington rehab project seen as a 'victory' for the state

HARTINGTON - The first thing you’ll notice pulling up to Leise Tax & Bookkeeping is the unique arched windows placed in the brick front facade.

Walk in and you’ll step right onto original hardwood floors.

The dark wood trim around Preston Leise’s office door and throughout the business gives off a historical Craftsman look.

“We wanted to keep the historical character on the outside of the building and then carry those features into the newly renovated interior,” Leise said, relying on the expertise of their contractor, Radec Construction of Hartington.

Leise gave tours of the newly renovated building at an open house and History Nebraska Victory Tour event Thursday evening. Leise proudly showed off the before pictures to those in attendance including one historic photo with classic Model Ts lined up outside the business at 107 N. Broadway St.

Leise and his wife, Emily, already knew a remodel was in their future when they purchased the building four years ago. But it wasn’t until Hartington was declared a historical district in 2019 that Leise really got to thinking about the building’s historical character and restoring it to its former glory and started looking into Nebraska Historic Tax Credits to pay for the renovation which ultimately paid for about 40% of the rehab costs, Leise said.

Being an accountant, Leise used what he’s familiar with - Microsoft Excel - to draft some original plans, he said with a smile.

“I made each Excel block a square and then I’d have each square be a foot so it wasn’t exact,” he said.

Demolition began in July 2020 and was completed five months later with a completely different layout and taller ceilings.

While under construction, the Leises decided to add a 1,400-square-foot addition onto the back of the building which provided room for a conference room, bathroom and kitchenette.

A studio and office space for Emily’s business, Emily Rose Photograhy, was included in the addition as well as an upstairs apartment that the Leises rent.

Trevor Jones and Ryan Reed of History Nebraska commended the Leises for their efforts.

Reed said the Leises join 86 others who have utilized the Nebraska Historic Tax Credit program since it began six years ago.

“For every dollar that History Tax Credit gives, it gets back $7 in economic development so it’s just a great investment for the state of Nebraska,” Jones said. “It’s just like you see here ... You improve the entire downtown.”

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