In Roxbury, a distillery will open in old train station and cigar workshop
ROXBURY — Elliott Davis, on warped floor boards, leans into his deformed building. In coming days he’ll take it apart, piece by piece, and then put it back together.
“Gotta burn the village to save the village,” he said.
It’s part of Davis’ plan to open a distillery in Roxbury’s old transportation hub. Mine Hill Distillery will sell craft spirits out of an 1850 cigar factory and an 1872 train station. A Thanksgiving opening is planned.
What the industrial revolution left, Davis picked up in 2015. He bought a dilapidated factory, cigar workshop, coal shed and the old train station for $237,000. Since, he’s spent “too much” bringing the old 2.69-acre historic site back to life, he said. His goal: All the buildings, from the outside, should look like they did when they were first built.
“It takes a degree of architectural sleuthing,” he said.
On the inside, it’ll be a much different story. Their will be flat screen TVs, and all the creature comforts we’ve come to enjoy since the time of outhouses. Prohibition’s vice, liquor, will be available, too, Davis said.
With much of the heavy lifting done on his old cigar factory and other outlying buildings — which have all been outfitted with steam-punk quirks, salvageable 1800s bubble glass and wood from old box cars — he’s turning his attention to the train station.
Workers have already carved back the walls of the train station to find the earliest style of construction, and a crew is hard at work scaling and planning the rebuild of an 1872 building that’s been repurposed several times since its initial construction.
If Davis’ train station looks anything like his nearby buildings — or him — it’ll be an anachronistic twist.
With a crafted mustache fit for the lost generation and an almost middle-part in his graying hair, Davis, 57, looks like the kind of guy who plays with time.
The old 1,300-square-foot garage has already been turned into a modern rackhouse, which will soon be filled with vodka and gin. Bourbon, which takes longer to sit, will take some more time, Davis said. And the old cigar factory already has birch bark cabinets that will soon hide flats screens and inches-thick glass that will cover holes left by a century-old dumbwaiter.
Parts of the spirits production won’t be aided by modern convenience, he said. Davis plans to manually roll barrels of booze downhill to the rackhouse after they’re crafted, he said.
The mix of modern convenience and old-time looks were at work when Davis met with a reporter recently. Then, looking at his digital watch through magnetized snap-together glasses, Davis said he had to get back to work.
There’s a lot to get together before Thanksgiving, he said.