“The more we’ve torn things out and stripped off a lot of the superficial boards, you can see that the structure’s intact,” said Aaron Beaty of Bay Brothers Construction.
Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service initially estimated the damage to the building and its contents at $500,000, but Beaty is now confident that restoration efforts would cost much less than that. While “nothing’s a given,” he said, he’s “very positive” the bar will be able to reopen.
One major hurdle that remains is making repairs that are acceptable under Montgomery County code. Beaty said they’re set to meet with the county early next month.
Architect Dave Almy, who normally designs large pools and waterparks, volunteered to draw up repair plans to present to the county. He’s been an infrequent visitor to Dietle’s over the years and wanted to help a neighborhood bar that he said is “like Cheers.”
“We’re basically replacing the walls and the windows and the doors,” Almy said, along with “places like that where the floor’s been burned out,” pointing to a hole near the front door.
The restoration efforts also appear to be gaining support on the state level. In an interview with NBC Washington, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan called Hank Dietle’s “just a beautiful, historic place” and said that he’s “knocked back a couple of beers in there over the years.” It would be “terrific” to see the building saved, Hogan said.
The fire gutted the inside of the century-old building in the early morning hours of Feb. 14. The blaze was blamed on a discarded cigarette on the front porch.
A GoFundMe page has also been set up to help with the restoration efforts.
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