We all know why HGTV’s House Hunters is so popular. Who doesn’t like to see inside other people’s houses to check out their color choices, furnishings and overall style? We’ve discovered that our downtown fans love seeing inside historic buildings even more. These are buildings that tell stories and have lived lives but have much more to give. We have met very few people who don’t love the idea of living in one of these wonderful old structures and many hope that one day, SOME day, they will be able to purchase one and make it their own. Given all that, what in the world would you do with THIS one?
She’s a beaut, ain’t she?
This roughly 8,000 FT 2-story building with a full basement is in downtown Shreveport, but we’re not going to share the location or the owner’s names at their request. However, they are happy to show you what blood, sweat, tears, effort and money can accomplish, even with a building that has sat vacant for dozens of years. The structure started its life as a hotel and bar, built in the early 1900s to take advantage of the large volume of railroad traffic coming through downtown Shreveport. The latest owners decided it was the perfect place for their private residence. I think you will enjoy this look at the before- and the now.
This looks wonderful compared to what it looked like when the plywood and tin was first pulled away from the doors. It was filled with debris, it was filthy, everything was dark and neglected. This is actually clean and not nearly as sketchy.
Whaaaat?! This is what it looks like NOW. It’s hard to list all the things that have been done to the space to shore it up, clean it out and make it livable. This is roughly looking the same direction and the same angle as the photo above. Scroll back and forth to take that in.
There was nothing in the original building that was in good shape. There was water in basement, there were no working systems, the roof was compromised and the stairway leading to the second floor was like a stairwell in a fun house. Check out how they simply cut through an existing door -and then left part of it- when this stairwell was built.
As it looks now. The new owners’ attention to detail is remarkable. Note the scraped and painted original beadboard ceiling, the scraped and re-painted original wood window frames and how the stairwell has been straightened and made beautiful. (The partial door was also removed and filled in.)
The new owners appreciated the history of the building, but they did not need multiple hotel rooms in their home. They carefully removed all the beadboard, doors, transoms, lighting fixtures and other items for use elsewhere in the building before changing the layout.
This is the view from roughly the same spot as the photo above. The owners decided to remove the walls and rooms and open up a portion of the first floor ceiling to give the space a more open and airy feel. You can see that they added structural bracing to keep the walls straight and supported.
This is the same view, only looking west to east. In this photo you have a better view of the ground floor below and what the space looks like with the hotel room walls removed.
Another remarkable thing about this building was the art discovered in it. This ‘infinity’ painting on a first floor wall shows the inside of the bar at the same location in the building- look at the door to the left and the window to the right in the painting and in the photo. Note that in the painting there is the same painting on the wall. Interesting Note- I believe that is Howard Hughes in the painting to the left with the officer behind him. Hughes owned a building nearby and was once arrested by Shreveport police for loitering.
The owners did everything that they could to clean and retain this original painting on the stucco wall.
There was other art painted on the opposite wall in the same room. This space used to be a bar, the painting dates from pre-WWII.
Once again, the owners did all they could to clean and save the plaster. It was in very bad shape in several areas, and sadly, some crumbled during cleaning.
The owners had to determine how to utilize multiple spaces in the former hotel.
In many of them they set up nooks for reading, relaxing and playing games. The large amount of wall space allows the owners to indulge in their love of collecting, especially vintage and mid-century furnishings, lighting and art.
The full basement was in sad shape. Standing water had compromised mortar and bricks and the bases of giant timber columns and it was honestly just a spooky place.
Here is a view of the basement now. It includes tons of storage and a great workshop area for the owners. You can see that it is open between the basement and the second floor.
This is one of the treasures found by the owner. It is a sign from one of the bars located here. He cleaned it up using a Q-tip and gentle cleanser and it looks wonderful!
This seems like a great place to ‘end.’ This is the original toilet on the second floor. This hotel, like many of the era, would have had only a pitcher of water and a bowl in the room. Toilets and bath facilities were communal.
I hope you enjoyed this virtual tour of one of our beautifully restored buildings downtown and that it encourages you to think about doing the same!