Glasgow Daily Times, Glasgow, KY

May 3, 2014

NEW BEGINNING: WKU interior design students lend talents to welcome center renovation

Glasgow Daily Times

CAVE CITY — Krystal Steele and her fellow Western Kentucky University interior design students got to see for the first time Wednesday how their designs were incorporated into the renovated Cave City Welcome Center and Chamber of Commerce building.

“It’s so cool to actually get to see what we’ve done. It’s like a collage of everybody’s ideas. It’s perfect,” said Steele, a Bagdad junior. “They used the best of everything.”

The students were asked last semester to weigh in on the project by members of the Cave City Tourism and Convention Center’s board of directors, which oversees the operation of the welcome center and the convention center.

Enlisting the students came about as a cost-saving measure for the tourism commission.

“We were on a budget and couldn’t afford an interior designer,” said Sharon Tabor, executive director of the convention center. Plus, she thought the project would offer the students a good “real-life project.”

The students were asked to develop designs using items that could be recycled or reused. Many of the designs the students presented to the tourism commission included the use of wooden pallets, large wooden wire spools, milk crates, shutters, ladders and crumb rubber.

In developing their designs, the students were asked to create a space that would allow the chamber of commerce some privacy for board meetings.

While the tourism commission didn’t use one specific design, it did pull ideas from several of the plans presented by the students.

By combining the students’ designs, the welcome center now features two walls with metal barn roofing, a floor made to look like faux rock by using brown paper, Elmer’s glue and polyurethane. A more private space was created for the chamber of commerce by using wooden pallets to partition the area, separating it from the rest of the welcome center.

In addition, wooden pallets were used to create shelving for brochures promoting various surrounding communities.

The welcome center also now features historical photographs of Cave City that have been borrowed from the Kentucky Library in Bowling Green, as well as other historical items about Cave City.

There are also handmade items from various artists and craftsmen, some of which are Kentucky Proud or Buy Barren First items, now available for sale in a gift shop at the welcome center.

“We are excited about the result sand we are hoping that it will help promote Kentucky Proud and Buy Barren First products and help set the tone for the visitor experience in Cave City,” Tabor said.

During the course of the work, some structural issues were discovered.  

“There were some supports missing from underneath the floor, so the city helped take care of it,” Tabor said.

The renovation project was the first time any improvements had been made to the building, which was once the Treasure Chest gift shop beside Long John Silver’s restaurant before it was moved to its present location on Mammoth Cave Avenue in 1997.

The welcome center remained open throughout the entire renovation process.

“I was skeptical at the beginning of it, but everything has turned out beautiful,” said Larry Mutter, a welcome center employee who is also treasurer of the chamber of commerce. “It’s been hard keeping it open during the time of the renovations, but things look great. Sharon Tabor has done a great job of getting it all together.”

Among those who toured the welcome center during an open house commemorating the completion of the renovation project Wednesday was Cave City resident Bertha Hogan, also a member of the chamber of commerce.

“I just think it’s great. I just love it,” she said. “What they did to it is unbelieveable. It’s just really good. I think the floor is beautiful. It is so completely different.”