DECATUR– Kemper Willcut ll says he will never forget the day, April 3rd, 2015, because that day, he says, was the worst day of his life.
It was still dark outside when Willcut received the call, that 24 hours before one of his busiest days of the year, Del’s Popcorn Shop was on fire.
“That morning when I got the call I was honestly in shock, so many things were running through my head that I wasn’t sure what to do, even when I showed up I think I was still in shock,” Willcut said.
After battling the fire for several hours that morning, fire department officials summed up that a faulty electrical box had started the blaze that nearly engulfed the entire building and caused damage to all three floors.
Nearly 4 months later, Willcut and his crew have completed the demolition process of the shop, which included removing all of the interior, including the flooring and the drywall, and now he says, the rebuilding can begin, “The days were long, going through this place and ripping out all the drywall, the flooring, the cabinets, everything had to go because it was all damaged by the fire or damaged by the smoke, but we are finally ready to start putting stuff back in.”
Willcut said one of the bright sides of doing the remodel is the amount of old artifacts that they found, “This building was built in the 1800s and through the previous renovations, many things weren’t taken down or removed, they were just covered, so going through all of this and taking everything down we found pieces that we believe were part of the original building.”
Most notably, Willcut says, is that they found a large beer sign reading “Decatur Beer Depot” that was located behind the Del’s Popcorn Shop sign in front of the building, “The sign was created by Del Burnett, who originally started Del’s popcorn shop way back when, so it has been cool to find some pieces of history that we didn’t know about before.”
Willcut says when Del’s opens up again in October it will mostly be the same, but there will be some added ‘pizzazz’, as well, “When we tore down the walls we found some really nice brickwork was behind the drywall so we will keep that up and in the open, I saved some of the bricks from the original merchant street back in the day and we are looking forward to finding a place for that to go in the new place, so we have some really cool ideas and I can’t wait to be back open.”
Daily updates on the progress of the rebuild can be found on the Del’s Popcorn Shop blog, here.