This . Now . That by Shannon Wing

Have you ever noticed that some of the most interesting details in people's homes can come from re-purposing certain items (old doors, custom built-ins, funky light fixtures, furniture...)? People nowadays flock to salvage stores to find those singular details that just don't exist in today's fast paced, profit driven construction market. This type of unique detail is not limited to just certain snapshots of a home, but can, in fact, encompass an entire home. Today, people have found ways to creatively re-purpose old buildings such as churches, fire-stations, and even banks into one-of-a-kind homes for themselves. Take a look at some of our favorites below.

This first example isn't actually a house, but a really neat adaptation of an old 1920's era building. A long abandoned bank in Chicago's South Side was purchased for $1 by a local artist and urban planner. He set out to restore the bank and turn it into an incredible public art resource. Now called the Stony Island Art Bank, it is a great example of the kinds of spaces that can be created when transforming a building's former purpose into its new one.

This old fire station in St. Louis was purchased as a foreclosure in 2013 by its new owners. The two-level structure was originally constructed in 1900 and was last used as a fire station in 1965. The new owners have transformed it slowly into a contemporary abode and in-home photography studio and office for their family. It comes complete with a fire pole in the dining room!

This last example is quite a dazzler.  Located at 1658 W. Superior Street in the East Village neighborhood of Chicago, this former Romanesque style church was built in 1888. It was converted to 14 condominium units back in 1998. This former church retained much of it's character throughout the transformation (which can be tricky for commercial resale projects): large, intricate stained glass windows; vaulted spaces, some as high as 30 feet; and brickwork can still be found in each unit.

Thanks for touring these unique spaces with us. All things morph over time, buildings included. Maybe we've sparked some ideas for new avenues for you to explore on the homefront as well!

seattle's spooky architecture by Unknown

We all have one in our neighborhood. We're all guilty of walking by it, sneaking peeks, trying to get a glimpse of something inside... In honor of Halloween, we’ve collected a few of our favorite spooky, haunted, and historic buildings from the Seattle Area and surrounding. Take a look…. You never know which one might be hiding in your neighborhood!

Perhaps one of the best known “haunted” buildings in Seattle, The Sorrento Hotel, built in 1909, is located in the First Hill neighborhood. Still a well-known and oft-frequented establishment today, it is rumored to host local ghost, Alice B. Toklas (the muse behind Gertrude Stein’s famous book), who roams the 4th floor.  The hotel fondly refers to her as their friendly ghost and honors her memory with a special drink on their menu at the Dunbar Room.

The Sorrento Hotel under construction in 1909
The Sorrento Hotel Today

West Seattle is home to another haunted building: West Seattle High School.  Built in 1902, it was designated as a historic landmark in 1981. There are reports that say a young student named Rose Higginbotham hung herself at the school in 1924, and ever since, students claim to see her spirit wandering the halls. She is also rumored to be seen in the early morning fog of the adjacent Hiawatha Playfield.

West Seattle High School back in 1917
West Seattle High School today

The iconic 5,000 square foot Georgetown Castle was built in 1902 by Peter J. Gessner. It is a distinctive example of Queen Anne architecture in the area and though it sat long uncared for, has now been remodeled and restored into a family residence again. It is popular belief that the home has long since been haunted by a tall, thin woman. However there is some disagreement on whether it is the ghost of a prostitute that was murdered by her magician boyfriend while the home spent a stint as a brothel, or the wife of one of Gessner’s sons, Sarah, who had an affair with another man.  

Georgetown Castle after it was completed in 1902
Georgetown Castle today, after restoration

Originally built in 1925, The Harvard Exit Theatre on Capitol Hill was originally a home to the Women's Century Club (they still meet there today!). The club's purpose was to help women with equality issues and the right to vote. It is rumored that a Century Club member hung herself in the upstairs lounge in the 1920's. Now a popular theatre, movie watchers have reported seeing shadowy figures in the lobby and hearing women's laughter on the upper levels.  

Harvard Exit Theatre as the Women's Century Club 
Harvard Exit Theatre today
A popular haunt in downtown Seattle’s Post Alley is the Butterworth Building... which is home to the popular Kell’s Irish Pub today. The basement of the Butterworth Building was the location of the city’s first mortuary and in the early 1900’s, was a rather busy one! The owners and staff have reported experiencing moving objects and having objects shatter spontaneously. Some even say they have seen a young girl who, legend has it, tries to lure other young children to come play with her.

Butterworth Building as the city's first mortuary
Butterworth Building as Kell's today
Halloween is just around the corner… maybe stop by Kell’s Irish Pub for a spooky pint or the Sorrento Hotel’s Dunbar Room for a Ms. Toklas cocktail and see for yourself if any of these rumors hold true.  And most importantly, have a happy and haunted Halloween!