New Life Breathed into Old Building in Salem

SALEM, Ohio – Developer Scott Cahill and his wife, Lisa, not only see tremendous potential in the landmark building they bought three years ago on East State Street, they see enormous potential throughout the downtown.

“We moved here to retire,” Scott Cahill said as he led reporters and U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson, R-6 Ohio, on a tour of the building. “But I don’t want to just play golf, I want to do something.”

That something was to convert the former Manila Building – so named in 1899 one year after Admiral George Dewey defeated of the Spanish navy at Manila Bay in the Philippines – into a multitenant complex that houses restaurants, shops, and small businesses.

So far, the building — renamed Courtyard Square – is home to nine tenants. “There are 60 people in here that are new to Salem,” Cahill noted.

Several years ago, Cahill helped assemble a technical advisory group to develop a plan to reinvigorate the downtown. “This is a manifestation of that,” he said. “All of this was done to prove that out.”

The ground floor houses Coaches, a bar/restaurant that opened in October. “I love Salem, and I thought it was a great community and thought it would be a great fit for us, and it has been,” said its owner Patrick Howlett,

Howlett operates Coaches restaurants in Boardman and Poland, so Columbiana County seemed like the next logical move, he said. “Salem has been tremendous to us,” he said, and the building had a great vintage appeal, especially an indoor courtyard that can handle overflow crowds from the restaurant.

Cahill said the building – actually a string of attached addresses that make up half a city block along East State Street — was constructed in 1896, and he’s working to restore and expose more of the original brick inside and outside of the structure.

A skylight illuminates the indoor courtyard, for example, along with ornate lighting that Cahill purchased when a popular tavern in Washington D.C.’s Georgetown district closed and auctioned some of its fixtures. And, the developer installed stained-glass windows from that same Georgetown tavern as well as tables from another popular seafood restaurant there.

Another restaurant with a menu distinct from Coaches – that restaurant is well-known for its burgers – is slated to move in, while two real estate offices, an ice cream parlor and a knit specialty shop are among the tenants on the ground floor.

Much of the upstairs is still under renovation, Cahill said.

“This is going to be a meeting room where you can have lunch,” Cahill said, as he pointed toward the brick walls, a fireplace targeted for renovation, and construction debris. Another room will serve as a media space with internet connectivity and television. The two rooms at the rear will be converted into high-end guest rooms.

“I certainly love old buildings,” Cahill said.

The building first served as a carriage house and stable, then a car shop and dealership and was the site of Salem’s first telephone exchange. It was in severe disrepair when the Cahills bought it in late 2013, Lisa Cahill said.

“The bulk of this renovation has been taking out modern finishes such as drop ceilings,” she said. The ceilings were removed in the courtyard to expose the original high ceilings still framed with hand-hewn wood trusses. “We’ve found so many interesting things in this buildings,” she said.

Johnson remarked that the Cahill efforts are the sort of private initiative that helps keep communities alive and thriving. “When the American people are allowed to innovate and compete, great things happen,” he said.

U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson was given a tour of the building by its developer, Scott Cahill.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.