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2021 Award of Merit: Oxford

Oxford's Strong Arm Bakery

2021 NC Main Street Award: Economic Vitality

Best Adaptive Reuse Project

  • Thomas & Julia Blaine

  • Belk Architecture

  • H.G. Reynolds



Watch The Award Video


Thomas and Julia Blaine began Strong Arm Bakery as a home-based business and pop-up shop, selling breads and baked goods in other local businesses for six years before opening a brick and mortar location. In 2019, they purchased 117 Main Street in Oxford to expand their operation.


With the help of Belk Architecture and contractor H.G. Reynolds, the Blaines completed a full rehabilitation of the first floor of the building. Work included removing a freight elevator, installing a commercial kitchen and bakery, and adding dining space and a private room for gatherings. The business continued to grow during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the gathering space was soon converted into the bread production area. The natural wood floors were retained, a wall in the back of the building was reopened to allow more natural light into the building and provide a second means of egress, and façade improvements were made.


The $1.6 million adaptive reuse project was funded by the owners, a $300,000 Community Development Block Grant for building reuse, and historic tax credits.

Strong Arm Bakery currently employs 42, delivers meals and baked goods weekly to several hundred homes in Durham, Hillsborough, Wake Forest, Oxford, and Henderson, and wholesales to fifteen coffee and food businesses in the region.









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