Reporter: Lauren Compton l Videographer: Ira Quillen
Bedford,VA- Armed with a tool belt and pride, one man in Bedford is trying to preserve some of Centertown's history.
Don Owen is buying and renovating old buildings in hopes of giving them new life. And city officials say this is just the kind of thing downtown Bedford needs.
Owen has been doing this for the past five years. He's even using his own money and resources to keep this going. At 75, Owen barely takes a break.
"When you sit down these old bones lock up and you can't move," said Owen.
His passion to restore some of Centertown's buildings won't let him slow down.
"In a lot of cities buildings like this get the wrecking ball," said Owen.
Owen says a lot of the city's buildings are too valuable for that fate. An old antique shop he is working on dates back to the 1800's. Owen plans to install energy efficient windows and renovate it all while keeping its classic glory.
"They go back to before we were born, you and I, and our fathers was born. If we do away with history we won't have anything left," said Owen.
In restoring some of Bedford's old buildings, Owen is also reliving some of his past.
He is restoring an old bowling alley on South Bridge Street, a place where he once visited back in 1959. The bowling alley is above an old bookstore he's restoring. He hopes to turn it into a restaurant. And he's got a lot of supporters.
"When you see someone like Don who is investing his own money in a property to its glory days that's good news for downtown," said Sue Montgomery, executive director for Bedford Main Street Inc.
While his efforts benefit him financially, he's more interested in how his work will help Bedford's future.
"You leave your mark. I fixed that building. My grandchildren can say my granddaddy fixed that building its still standing," said Owen.
Owen's son is a contractor and lends a helping hand. In the past, he's restored the American National Bank building in Bedford. He also owns the National D-Day offices downtown.