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June 2012
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An Urban Haven

Story by Jessica Perkins Photography by Amanda Cross

Hidden away in Mayfield's historic downtown sits a 120-year-old building that has been rehabilitated by Kelli and Shawn Hoover. About three years ago, the Hoovers purchased the property in the 100 block of South 7th Street, a building that was once home to the Finkel's Fair Store.

With their own children leaving the nest, they decided to restore the building's downstairs retail space, while creating an upstairs studio apartment for themselves. From floor to ceiling, the building's design and decor gives evidence of its owners' handiwork and craftsmanship. In fact, it was one of Shawn's artistic talents that inspired the idea to restore this beloved building in the first place.

Shawn, who would never describe himself as an artist, forges artistic metal pieces that bear a striking, industrial-inspired image. Initially, his work was created for himself and his family, but eventually friends began to commission his work, as well. With so much interest, it seemed a good time to open a shop where Shawn could display and sell to the public. That idea prompted the Hoovers to invest in their downtown building.

However, as the Hoovers' main business, Atlas Equipment Services, entered a new season of growth, the idea for opening a retail space was not so feasible. So they decided to restore the downstairs space to lease it to a local retailer, leaving the upstairs room untouched and underutilized.

Kelli remembers how dark and empty the second floor was. She couldn't imagine what they would do with the additional space.

"We've always talked about how cool it would be to have one of those downtown studio apartments," she says. "We always figured it was one of those pie in the sky ideas that would never happen."

Yet fate held a different plan. One night when discussing what to do with the space, Shawn told Kelli he thought they should turn it into the studio apartment they'd often dreamed of owning. So that's what they did.

Restoration was no easy task, as the Hoovers will attest. There were days and days of removing plaster and exposing brick on interior walls. The project took three years before the Hoovers were able to move in.

"If somebody had told me in the beginning that this was what you would have to do in order to get this building restored, I would have run from it," says Kelli.

However, the couple's perseverance transformed a dark, abandoned warehouse space into a vibrant, urban haven that gives a nod to the rich history that this building represents. From the metalwork that adorns much of the wall space to the trim that runs through the upstairs apartment, much of the materials in this second floor residence were crafted by Kelli and Shawn's own hands.

Old wood and scraps from the original building were repurposed and used to build a table in the kitchen and bookshelves that adorn the walls of a serene sitting room where Kelli likes to read.

The hardwood floors were rugged, but the Hoovers were determined to save them and invested every bit of energy they had in sanding and refinishing the planks to a rich brown floor. It lovingly showcases the years of stories that have run through this aged building.

While much history has been preserved in this space, the Hoovers have also adapted the scenery to include modern amenities such as a home theater system that ejects from the ceiling, complete with stadium seating and a bar that provide excellent seats for friends and family to gather on "game day."

The master suite is also notable. It opens up to a covered balcony that offers a view of Mayfield's courthouse square. Another luxury of the Hoovers' space is the master bath, which is outfitted with a bathtub large enough for two, and a luxurious shower, as well. Perhaps one of the apartment's more intriguing features is the handcrafted metal door to the downstairs bathroom, which bears an origami-like structure in how it folds and unfolds when opened and closed.

While the task of preserving their building was daunting, this was not the first preservation project that the Hoovers tackled together. Early in their marriage they restored a Victorian home where they lived in rural Pennsylvania. That passion for preservation has never left them.

"We've always loved the old spaces. It's kind of like once it gets in your blood it's like a disease. You're not getting rid of it," Kelli says.

The Hoovers agree that rehabilitating or restoring an old building brings a lot of unknown challenges.

"This is not everybody's cup of tea," Shawn admits.

There are still a few small features that the Hoovers continue to work on in the studio but they are happily living within the four walls of this restored historic space. The downstairs retail space is now home to 2 Chicks & a Farmer, a new home and gift shop. The Hoovers could not be more pleased with how their project has turned out and how it's grown their relationship.

"There have been several times when we've been able to find that sweet spot with one another â ¦ just being quiet together (while working) was good for us," Kelli says. "That's been our dance." n

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