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Embroidery business warms to historic Westerville home

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* Custom stitching is now produced in the building that in the 1870s sparked public protests against alcohol consumption.
Published: Wednesday, February 6, 2008 1:09 PM EST

After 15 years of business, Embroidery Deluxe, 39 W. Main St. in Westerville, is constantly reminded of the past.

Donna Potochnik, owner and operator, said over the years her business has always seemed to be a meeting place, where old friends cross paths. Then there's always the major life events.

"I see kids I designed blankets for as babies continue to come in as they grow up. There's also sad memories. I've had to do work for good friends because they passed away," Potochnik said.

Potochnik first opened Embroidery Deluxe in 1993 in Hanby Square, where it would remain until July 2005. Parking lot construction and the desire to own her own storefront were the determining factors to move.

"People used to say I was the best-kept secret in Westerville, being stuck in the back corner of Hanby Square," Potochnik said.

With the move, her work continues to range from small to large custom embroidery orders for everything from last-minute Christmas stockings to parachutes.

"I've always been in the niche of personalizing things that other places can't or don't want to do," Potochnik said.

There was one major change related to moving to Uptown Westerville that involves the building's colorful past.

Westerville banned the sale of alcohol in 1858 upon its formation as an Ohio hamlet. But the state of Ohio less than two decades later revoked local municipalities' power to regulate local alcohol sales.

Resident Henry Corbin then opened Corbin's Saloon at 37 W. Main St. in 1875 to the protests of Temperance backers, sparking Westerville's famous "Whiskey Wars."

A few years later, a dynamite explosion blew out the windows and lifted the roof off the small brick building. No perpetrators were ever identified. Corbin moved to a location on State Street, but decided to call it quits when that building also was dynamited in 1879. The business was the last to legally sell alcohol in Westerville until 1998, and the Uptown district was not voted "wet" until 2006.

Potochnik said she was familiar with some of the history when she moved into the building, but did not anticipate the interest that would follow.

"One day a gentleman showed up at my door and said, 'I want to take a picture of you in front of your business, because you're in this book,' " said Potochnik. The book was a guide for a thousand interesting places to visit.

Others, including those directed by the nearby Westerville Visitors and Convention Bureau as well as school tours, also have stopped by.

In response, Potochnik decided to decorate her business with historic photos from the building's past.

"Whenever I know the school children are coming by, I take the picture of when the building was blown up and place it into the window," Potochnik said. "They always seem to love that one."

While the building is remembered for its past, Potochnik said she wants her future business endeavors to echo what she has built upon over the last 15 years.

"I don't want to have a huge business because I enjoy being a family business," Potochnik said. "I also enjoy my customers and hope they continue to like coming in."

"One day a gentleman showed up at my door and said, 'I want to take a picture of you in front of your business, because you're in this book.' "

--Donna Potochnik


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