When it was built for the owner of a local dairy company in 1935, the Benewah Milk Bottle in Spokane, Wash., was a good example of literalism in advertising: It looked like what was sold inside. In September of 2011, the historic structure — along with the attached restaurant — was damaged by fire. The owners hired my company, Compass Construction, to repair the damage.

The project called for some creative thinking. The 38-foot-tall by 15-foot-wide bottle had a 2x4 stick frame with an overlay of lath and stucco; two-thirds of the frame’s weight was supported by a steel I-beam that ran diagonally across the outer walls. The engineering report dictated that we find a way to stabilize the 33,000-pound bottle while we replaced the single existing beam with a more robust welded assembly. After much discussion we decided to do this with temporary beams and an array of pole jacks. Once the new steel was in place, the rest of the job was relatively straightforward.

The result is a big improvement over the pre-fire structure. In addition to upgrading the ventilation and other mechanicals, we restored the ceiling to its original 15-foot height and created an overhead rotunda ornamented with neon lighting and four custom milk-bottle-shaped lamps.

The day before the restaurant’s official reopening in May, the owners hosted a thank-you party for our crew and the Spokane firefighters, with plenty of burgers and — you guessed it — milkshakes.

Kevin Serr is a remodeler and restoration specialist in Spokane, Wash.