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A fund-raiser will be held for a popular Lancaster gift shop that was heavily damaged by a fire over the summer.

Lynn M. Jensen and Tricia A. Lechowski operated the country gift store called Gatherings for the past year in the historic brick building on Genesee Street. The house, built in 1846, is the oldest brick home in town and is owned by Tops Friendly Markets.

Jensen and Lechowski also will donate a portion of the proceeds to the Minard family. Tim Minard is suffering from terminal cancer, said event chairman Doug Szary.

The benefit will be held from noon to 11 p.m. Sept. 29 at the Lancaster Speedway, 57 Gunnville Road.

Szary, along with event coordinators and Town Board members Georgette F. Pelletterie and Richard D. Zarbo, got involved after visiting the site. Soon afterward, the group agreed to take it a step further.

"We just decided to have a fund-raiser for these people and try to turn it into an annual event," Zarbo said. "Every year, we can pick a struggling business and a Lancaster family to help."

Lechowski said she is touched by the show of support.

The fund-raiser will help the women rebuild the historical site, which they hope to reopen within a year, Lechowski said. The brick building itself is still standing, and so is the original fireplace.

Tops did some major structural work on the building last year before renting it to the women, including fixing the roof, gutters and fireplace. Jensen and Lechowski, meanwhile, put their sweat into the building, replastering walls, fixing the concrete steps and painting.

An investigation determined the July 27 fire that ripped through the structure was due to a faulty power surge compressor that caused between $150,000 and $200,000 in damages, Lechowski said.

The house, at 5895 Genesee St., is located on property Tops bought when it planned to build a distribution center in Lancaster. The plan was rejected by the town, but Tops still owns the land.

"We working very closely with (Lechowski and Jensen) to come up with something, to try and get something going," said Tops spokeswoman Stephanie Zakowicz. "This is not something we've forgotten about. We hope to have some good news in the near future."

Zakowicz said Tops is sorting through all kinds of issues.

"Can we parcel off the land? Should we keep it intact? We're trying to see what's feasible and how far we can go," Zakowicz said.

For tickets and information on the Gatherings fund-raiser, call 651-9826.


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