The Amsden Building, Versailles KY in 1975
Where do I even start? It's been almost a year exactly since we closed on our fixer upper in Versailles, Kentucky. My husband grew up in Versailles and we both love living here and have fallen in love with the small town charm and history of the area. We are both so passionate about bringing new life to ignored buildings and homes, and nothing makes me more upset than seeing old buildings torn down or abandoned. Over the past year of living in Versailles, we have noticed the lack of retail in downtown. This isn't anything new, as historical downtown areas are dying in most small towns as developers continue to move large shopping centers to the outskirts of towns, closer to bypasses and interstates. This diverts the traffic away from the beautiful historic buildings that line the Main Streets of Kentucky and slowly business either move out, and the buildings either sit empty or get filled with offices. I don't have anything against office space in downtown, but it just makes me kind of sad when that is all that is filling these amazing storefronts- it doesn't bring people into downtown or make it a fun destination spot. We need more restaurants, local businesses and stores, coffee shops, and unique spaces that will attract people young and old from all over Kentucky and hopefully even farther.
Well if you know us, we like to have a project at all times. We love to be planning and dreaming, but we also like to actually make our plans a reality. Our dreams of owning a commercial property probably started in October when we went to visit the Magnolia Silos in Waco, TX. We were so inspired by the change that Chip and Joanna have made with one business idea that slowly grew into an empire and is single-handedly revitalizing the entire city.
Long story short, we decided to take a step to hopefully make a change and begin to revitalize the downtown of Versailles. The Amsden building is one of the oldest buildings in downtown Versailles and has been for sale since we moved here a year ago. We always had our eye on it, but at the time had no interest jumping into another project as we were still finishing our renovation. Recently the price was cut significantly, and we just couldn't turn down the opportunity to own this unique and historic place in the center of downtown.
On the main floor there are 3 separate entrances/storefronts and our initial plans include a coffee shop, store/market highlighting local vendors + makers, and hopefully a beer hall or bourbon bar of some sort. The upstairs is now separated into four different office suites/studio spaces and we will be renting these after renovating them (so if you're in need of a nice office space in Versailles with views of Main Street, let me know- free decorating for your space included!). The building has been used for many things recently including political offices, police offices, etc. and is now separated into many small offices/cubicles on the main floor. We are going to knock out basically all the walls and completely open up the entire space, restoring the original 14 foot ceilings throughout and bringing back as much of the original character of the building as we can (unfortunately whoever renovated the building in the late 80's- early 90's did not do a great job in preserving many of its historical elements). We are excited to be working with an amazing team from Andover Construction and Burnworth Design on this project who specialize in historical commercial renovations.
While we are hoping to rent most of the building to other businesses, Alex and I really have a vision for both the coffee shop and store concept and are planning on designing and running these businesses ourselves. I'm very excited to design these spaces and can finally put to use all the store display ideas I've been hoarding for years on Pinterest. I want these spaces to be unlike anything else in the area and stop people in their tracks. What will the store look like? I'm hoping a mix of Miss Molly Vintage with lots of other local vendors + maker friends mixed in, a one-stop shop for all things local and unique. I don't want to share a whole lot about either space just yet, as I'm still finalizing all my ideas and visions for each space. I plan to share the entire renovation process with you all along the way, just like I did with our home! A commercial renovation will be a lot different as far as constant inspections and due to that, lots of delays, but we are excited for the challenge. We are hoping to be open for business in the fall and hope you will all come visit (a huge grand opening party is a must)! Stay tuned for more updates and to see this building slowly transform over the coming months!