By Tia Lynn Lecorchick staff writer
David and Karen Griffith, who own 26 properties throughout Morgan County, purchased the Canterbury Apartments, the first apartments ever to be built in the county, from owner Betty Ervin, 83, a prominent business owner in Madison.
“We appreciate all the contributions the Ervin Family has made to Madison’s business community,” said Fred Perriman, mayor of Madison.
“Betty Ervin is known as a strong, successful business woman. She led her family through tough economic times. She couldn’t have picked anyone better than Karen and Dave Griffith to build upon her legacy. The Griffiths see housing issues in the community and are finding ways to address them. The city looks forward to a good relationship.”
The Griffiths are looking forward to taking over the Canterbury Apartments. “We want to help bring affordable quality housing to the community. It’s something Madison simply does not have enough of,” said Karen Griffith.
“We are really focused on reaching that mid-income level range, to provide people in that range housing options they can both afford and want to live in.” The Griffiths plan on slowly updating and renovating the apartment complex. The first round of updates will be in the form of landscaping and exterior improvements.
“We have had rental properties in Morgan County since 1995. We have built our business on providing well maintained, safe, quality places for our tenants to call home,” said Karen Griffith. “Through the past 20 years, we have added to our residential holdings every year. We own, manage, and maintain residential, commercial and undeveloped property.
The acquisition of the properties from Mrs. Ervin provides us a new opportunity to add our energy and vision to another segment of rental properties in Madison. There is a need for quality 2 bedroom/1 bath residences in Morgan County, and we look forward to transforming the apartments over time. We will begin work on the landscaping and exterior of the buildings soon.” Canterbury Apartments, located on Sulgrave Road in Madison, is a 16-unit apartment complex that was built in the 1970s by the Ervins. Betty Ervin continued to manage the property after her husband died 22 years ago.
“I have cried over this sale, even though I am glad to sell it. It’s like part of my family—like one of my kids. It’s just sad and I haven’t gotten used to it yet,” said Ervin. But Ervin hopes that as she passes the torch to the Griffiths, that they will revamp the Canterbury Apartments and make them better. “I hope you do twice as well as we did with it,” said Ervin to Karen Griffith. Betty Ervin and her late husband, M.P. Ervin, moved to Madison in the early 1950s as a young married couple from humble beginnings.
They opened a small produce store in town and eventually, two liquor stores, two conveniences stores, a BBQ buffet, a car wash, and rental properties. According to Ervin, she worked relentless to become successful in life.
“My husband never got a good education but he had a brilliant mind and good ideas. The Lord blessed him with the ideas and I ran everything. I worked day and night, seven days a week sometimes, and didn’t take vacations for years,” remembered Ervin. “I have worked sick and right after having a baby. I kept the books and I could cut meat just like a man. It’s been a lot of hard work, but I loved it. I love people and working with them. I have always tried to be faithful and fair to the people working for us or living in our properties,” said Ervin. Now that Ervin has one less commitment, she is hoping to spend her days relaxing and maybe even travelling.
“I don’t care much for travel, but I have always wanted to go to two places, the Grand Canyon and Ireland. I also love my cabin up in the mountains of Blairsville,” said Ervin. Ervin has persevered through some tough years, losing two children in the last couple of years, experiencing two house fires, and a business fire. “You have to be a strong person to get through all that,” said Ervin.
“I’m not gonna give up. I have never given up on anything in my life,” said Ervin. “I tell people all the time, don’t ever say you can’t and don’t ever give up.” She attributes her strength to her faith, which she found in the 1950s during a Billy Graham Crusade. “It changed my entire life,” said Ervin. “God has always answered my prayers, so I know everything will turn out just fine.”