Artful Urban Living
From classic to contemporary, the lofts at 816 on the Boulevard make downtown living a capital attraction.
When Paula Butterfield bought the Rose City Press warehouse 10 years ago at 816 Kanawha Boulevard in Charleston, she had a lofty goal—to transform Charleston’s first concrete-reinforced building into a residential space. “When I drove by the building, the first thing I noticed was that it had parking,” Paula recalls. “I wanted to live downtown and be able to park safely, so I had Jarrett Construction and Paul Tennant with Associated Architects take a look at the building and tell me what I could do with it.” Now she lives there. Her 5,400-square-foot penthouse is just one of the nine lofts that make downtown living downright enviable.
On the site of the former Ruffner Brothers Building, this Neoclassical Revival, six-story building was built in 1907. In 2002, when it was transformed into luxury lofts, each owner purchased a blank slate and personalized their space to fit their individual needs. No two are alike. The only things they have in common are soaring ceilings, exposed ductwork, and intoxicating views of the Kanawha River and the historic Southside Bridge. “I didn’t approach this project like a developer. I think that is why it turned out so well,” Paula says. “I did things the way I wanted them as a homeowner. I didn’t cut corners.”
Lois and Sam Crichton’s loft combines the building’s historic charm with modern design. “We moved from an English Tudor home, but we were ready to do something different,” Lois says. Their 2,100-square-foot space lives large with two bedrooms, a man cave, two-and-a-half baths, and a large open living room, dining area, and kitchen. “I’ve always loved contemporary style,” says Sam. “I was a bit worried that it wouldn’t appeal to Lois, but when we started picking out the textures and surfaces, I said, ‘You go girl!’ I never thought she’d pick the color purple for the kitchen.”
If Lois ever had reservations, she doesn’t now. “We love to travel. We love being able to lock and leave. We don’t have to worry about anything,” she says.
Down the hall, neighbors Debra and Craig Rhorer took a more traditional approach. “I love to cook so I had to have a large kitchen and dining room,” Debra says. “But what’s so cool about these lofts are how different each of them are. The floor plan and decorating styles are unique.”
Low maintenance living has its appeal. Who hasn’t yearned for no yard to mow or roof to replace? Brigid and David Haney sold their large home in South Hills and moved with their two teenage children across the river. “We used to live in a very large home and we had an incredible yard and lovely gardens. But it was just too much. One day, I walked outside my home and the deer had eaten my entire garden. I told my husband, ‘I’ve had enough. It’s time to move.’ And we haven’t missed it one bit.”
Charleston has seen a dramatic increase in the demand for downtown apartments and condos by young professionals, but urban living doesn’t just appeal to 30-year-olds. It has a strong appeal for empty nesters and retirees looking to downsize and live conveniently close to restaurants and shopping venues. “I love that we can walk to the Capitol Market, Taylor Books, Pies & Pints, the Peanut Shoppe, the Charleston Bread Company, and then grab an ice cream at Ellen’s,” says Lois. “We take evening strolls along the boulevard and attend Friday concerts at Haddad Riverfront Park. We are in a fabulous location.”