LOFT LIFE in Uptown Saint John #SaintRenovate

Just over a year ago, Robert and I purchased a commercial condo on the main level at 115 Prince William Street.  This historic treasure is locally known as the Old Post Office Building.  It was rebuilt after the great fire in 1878 and is the city’s first iron frame building. The use of iron and stone represented the will for the city to rebuild, as well or better, after the fire.  Below is a photo of the ruins of the original Post Office in 1877

George F. Simonson, stereograph: View of the Ruins after the Great Fire, Post Office, Saint John, New Brunswick – 1877, albumen print mounted on card, 8.7 x 17.6 cm © New Brunswick Museum

Left:  From the New Brunswick Museum Archives Right, modern-day Old Post Office Building, circa 2005.

We bought the condo out of necessity.   Tuck, pictured above, our almost-seven-year-old furniture, decor and interior design business, is diagonally situated across the street from the old post office building.  Tuck required a large storage space for all the incoming furniture and inventory to be delivered and inspected.  It had to be handy for our team to ‘run across the street’ and equally convenient for our clients & delivery companies to pick up items, and also for outbound deliveries. 

Buying this condo seemed to be a win-win for two reasons.  One, we’d have a storage space close to our store and two, we’d be investing in an uptown property; we’d be a tax-paying citizen rather than just a tenant.

But, here’s the thing:  its practical advantages aside, this historic space is  B E A U T I F U L.  Too beautiful to be ‘just’ a storage facility.  Don’t get me wrong.  Over the years it has suffered some really dubious paint choices and haphazard upper floor additions (including an unimaginative toilet, sink, and kitchenette).  An inside glass wall was put in for what I suspect was a boardroom and the space is, in general, poorly lit.

But, the bones of this once first floor Post Office from 1878, our 1800 square feet space, are still intact;  the double-height ceiling (reaching approximately 22′ feet high), the stunning large windows with thick original arched moulding and the original Corinthian pillars are breathtaking.  Given all that it has to offer, the vision I have for this space gives me goosebumps; it makes my heart race.

One year ago, I was chomping at the bit, desperate to take immediate action to renovate this space and start to make it beautiful.   I even took a crowbar to one wall because I wanted to see and smell the lathe!  Robert asked me to wait a year before making any decisions. Why rush? was the question he asked.  I begrudgingly agreed, the project was put on hold, and I got to sulk for the better part of that year.  And, wow, am I ever glad I did!  What I thought would be a simple ‘reno’ has turned out to be a lengthy and complicated undertaking indeed, one involving architects, engineers, the planning advisory committee, the one-stop development shop, and an appearance in City Hall.  Notwithstanding the expanding scope and scale, don’t let me leave you with the impression that this story of this renovation is beginning on a negative note.  Far from it.  It’s been a blast so far, replete with fascinating yet manageable challenges.  And we haven’t even really begun!  

The building permit comes next week!

Follow along on this blog and also on my instagram account @judithmackin to learn, for one thing, about the incredible support offered by city hall and the volunteer members of PAC (the Planning Advisory Committee) who’ve help our application to change the condo’s status from purely commercial to a “ live/work” unit.

Let’s go! #saintrenovate 





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