A fresh coat for long-time paint shop destroyed by fire

By: Alana Greenfogel Email
By: Alana Greenfogel Email

Less than two weeks ago, C.E. Lee made the news because a fire destroyed the South Bend paint shop that's been in the city since 1872.

Now, the business is back making headlines. The family-run store is planning on opening back up Monday, May 5th.

"We're just happy to be here, happy to be open again," Bob Lee says. "We welcome all our customers back because we have such a special relationship with all our customers. They're just like family to us. They really are."

"It was tragic, but we've pulled through and we're going to re-open so it's bittersweet," Danielle Lee, Bob's daughter-in-law also shares.

It's been a busy few days, working day and night to stock the shelves and set up the equipment. The family even got some help from suppliers and customers.

"I have been using them for my paint supplies for years. They're just a really, wonderful, wonderful family-owed business. And I just wanted to come help them," says one of those customers, Cyndi Andrzejewski.

The owners have gone to great lengths to re-open so quickly, but they haven't gone too far. The new location is right across the street on Ironwood from the building destroyed by the fire.

A little history: The company was started 136 years ago by Amis William Lee. His great-great grandson and 5th generation, Chuck Lee, is now running the shop.

'"I'm sure he would be really proud that we are opening up right away," Chuck says.

Little 15-month-old Catelyn Elizabeth spent most of her life at the old shop. Today, she's exploring the new one. And seeing that is hope for a 6th generation of C.E. Lee in South Bend.

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