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Moore/Corlew building renovated

Photo provided.

In the mid 1800s, the Moore/Corlew building came into existence at present-day 400 N. Jefferson St., Huntington. For a good portion of its existence, the brick building and its main level have been home to several downtown Huntington businesses, while the upstairs levels went unused for 75 years or more. Now, thanks to the efforts of Sara and Matt Wilcox, a new life has been breathed into the second and third floors, which are ready to be used as living spaces.

In the spring of 2020, Matt purchased the building. The downstairs level of the building was turned into a new retail space, called HomeCraft – The Art of Home, which features quality home goods and gifts with an emphasis on goods made in the U.S., Fair Trade items and regionally produced items. In the fall of 2020, the duo began renovations on the upstairs units and the “really serious” projects started in early 2021, according to Matt.

Matt and Sara also credit former building owner Dr. Eric Harman, as well as the Harman family, with doing a lot of rehab work in the 1980s that led to the building having a “new lease on life” and being restored to its former grandeur.

Without making the investment to complete projects such as fixing the building’s roof and HVAC system, the future of the building very well could have been called into question. But now, Matt and Sara have been able to turn the previously un-used areas of the building into two separate living units.

The first unit, located at 4 W. Market St., is a two-bedroom, two-bathroom unit on the second and third floors of the Moore/Corlew building. It is 1,600 square feet and, at one time, was home to several individual offices for business owners to rent.

“If you look at some of the old pictures, you’ll see different names on the windows,” Matt said. “Whether it was an accounting firm or a hairdresser or whatever it might have been, there were the general stairs for customers to come up and then a general hallway.”

Sara added that, even prior to those days, there was signage that indicated that the building housed a restaurant, a dentist and a millinery and fancy goods store.

“There’s a lot of history here,” Matt said. “It was essentially empty in the top two floors when we bought the building.”

At the West Market Street unit, there were two major obstacles that had to be handled – not only had the unit experienced fire damage at one point, but the third floor was nearly inaccessible except for a hole in the ceiling and a ladder to climb. Despite these difficulties, Matt and Sara addressed every issue they came to in a way that would not just be a temporary fix, but would help the building live on for another 50 to 100 years. Local contractors and designers were also used for the wide variety of projects needed to complete the units, and Matt and Sara had the goal of “keeping it a Huntington project” and sticking to as much of a historical design as possible when they were remodeling the spaces.

“We didn’t have anything (specific) that we had to abide by – but we felt that we wanted to keep to the spirit of the original building,” Matt said. “The windows are new, but if you didn’t know that, you probably wouldn’t realize it because they look just like the old ones. We put a new roof on the building… the old one was a cedar shake roof and we put on a new cedar shake roof.”

Matt and Sara also strived to include special, unique details in the remodel that would help the spaces stand out. For instance, some of the old joists were made into stairway treads that lead up to the third floor of the building, and one of the beams that had been charred by the fire is exposed over the stairway as well to show the history of the building. The third floor, which is considered the upstairs portion of the apartment, offers flexibility – whether a tenant wanted to use it as a third bedroom, a workout area, a library or a home office, the space is changeable for their needs.

The next unit, located at 410 N. Jefferson St., is 1,000 square feet and is a one-bedroom, one-bath. Although the unit is smaller than the first, Matt and Sara did what they could to make the space ‘stand out’ and still unique. It includes an upstairs washer and dryer, a unique cable railing in the stairway to allow extra light, as well as an aluminum grate overhead of the downstairs desk niche to also allow in more natural light.

“This space is just completely different than what it used to be,” Matt said. According to Sara, they had to do some ‘excavating’ to find the original windows, which had been closed up over the course of the building’s existence.

All of the building materials and design ideas for both units were well researched and planned out, with the hope that they would last for many more years to come. Matt and Sara hope to find someone who can truly appreciate the work that was put in to the units, as well as appreciate the historical significance of the building, to live there.

“We want it to be a nice place to live and we want to bring people downtown that want to live, want to shop and want to appreciate the downtown area,” Sara said. “Maybe they’re coming from Chicago or Indy and they want that downtown vibe but they want to be a part of the smaller town feel, too.”

Those who are interested in possibly leasing the space may contact Apollo Land Co. at 359-2325.