Hope's Accents building, located on the northeast side of the Town Square, is undergoing a renovation for its new incarnation as a conference center that will tentatively open in the spring of 2018.

Ken Patton, owner of Patton Homes, Inc. in Columbus, purchased the property nearly five years ago after it sat empty for several years.

This year he decided it was time to give it a new look and purpose.

"I would like to see Hope grow," he says.

Allowing a community to settle into contentment with how things are, with no change, can be detrimental, he says.

"People need to realize things have to continue to progress, as painful as it is with sentimental value, it has to happen or it'll die off," Patton says. "I have a vested interest in Hope. I felt like it was important to get involved and help it grow even if it is a nice, slow, steady pace."

So what better way to bring new life to the town than offer a conference center that is available for a variety of receptions, gatherings and meetings, he says.

A few years ago, Patton bought some commercial properties in and around the town Square at the behest of his long-time friend, the late Larry Simpson.

While running the Hope Star-Journal, Simpson also worked with Patton, who asked him to be the full-time property manager overseeing Patton's three commercial properties in Hope - including the Accents building.

"I was going to sell the Accents building to Larry on contract because he had a lot of ideas of what he could do with the building," Patton says.

Unfortunately, Patton never got the chance as Simpson died a short time later.

Since that time, the building has lain dormant.

Once the renovations started, Patton found the building was hiding a treasure. The property was originally built to house people's horses and buggies at night, he says. Then it was renovated as a pharmacy and soda shop.

Reminiscent of Zaharako's in Columbus, the Accents building still has its original tin ceiling and plaster walls, Patton says.

"With the original shell of the building intact, I thought it would provide a quaint atmosphere that would serve as a great location for wedding receptions and gatherings," Patton says. "And Hope doesn't really have a space like that."

Patton says the event center will occupy a 3,000-square-foot portion of the building. If the demand is present for bigger events, the space will be expanded into the back of the building, he says.

"So I would call this phase one," Patton says.

Jake Miller, president of the Hope Chamber of Commerce, says the renovated space will help cater to the needs of the community.

"Just having a 3,000-square-foot space is a huge space to have large events," Miller says. "Willow Leaves of Hope is a smaller space that hosts a variety of events now, but with Ken's opening that would give us another larger event space. So that would be a huge asset to Hope rather than having to go out of town."