A Three-Century Story of a Modern Home

Home of the Week- Janet and Richard Rosenbaum Residence at the Mercantile Gallery Lofts.

Home of the Week- Janet and Richard Rosenbaum Residence at the Mercantile Gallery Lofts. (Photos by James Eaton)

The East Market District is unquestionably one of the best places to live in Louisville. It’s hip, it’s new and it has a vast array of living spaces, businesses, eateries, galleries and more. Near the corner of Floyd and Market, just before one hits the heart of NuLu, lies one of the most beautiful buildings in which to make a home – Mercantile Lofts. Not only is this an amazing place to live, but the building is rich in history and has found a way to merge the class with the contemporary in its design. Its unit-owners, like Richard and Janet Rosenbaum, couldn’t say better things about it. Their personal connection to the building’s history and their partnership with Calvin Evans, principal at Ace Louisville Logistics & Construction Management, has left them with a customized and incredible new home at Mercantile Lofts that boasts a breathtaking river view and feels like the best home they’ve ever had.

Master Bedroom.

Master Bedroom.

The Mercantile Lofts building was built by Isaac Rosenbaum, Richard Rosenbaum’s great-great grandfather, in 1889. “It housed their hide, medicinal root, leather and wool business,” says Richard. The Rosenbaum family business continued to operate in the building until 1960. Louisville’s architectural history in general is an amazing aspect of the city; however, it’s not often that a current resident can claim a three-century familial connection to their abode. “I have a noticeable feeling of belonging, familiarity, ownership and comfort as soon as I walk in the door,” says Richard.

And what’s inside the doors at Mercantile Lofts is pretty impressive. The vibe of the building is truly stunning because it melds together the classic architectural elements of the building’s history with contemporary sleek design, bright colors and engaging art. Guests are greeted by stained concrete, exposed brick walls painted green, a painting of a knight drinking soda and sliding metal utility doors mounted on the wall painted a vibrant red. The building itself is secured and contains a large recreation room, complete with pool table, exercise center and open kitchen for all guests to utilize for social gatherings. Each respective unit comes complete with washer and dryer as well.

Janet loves to decorate extensively for holidays including Valentine’s Day.

Janet loves to decorate extensively for holidays including Valentine’s Day.

Even with all of this, Janet and Richard Rosenbaum wanted a bit more to feel truly settled in. They first purchased a 730 square-foot unit. They had come from a wonderful, over 4,000-square-foot home in Simpsonville, Kentucky. While they were intending to downsize in coming to Mercantile Lofts, they wanted a bit more space. Soon, three adjacent units became available, and the Rosenbaums had an idea – to join them and bring some elements of their Simpsonville home into the new, combined unit, effectively creating a space they were comfortable in that brought their traditional and retro styles together with the modern feel of the Mercantile Lofts.

This is where the skills and savvy of Calvin Evans come into play. Evans was the general contractor and consultant for the Rosenbaums on their remodeling project. “The fact that they wanted to combine three separate units got my attention immediately,” he says. “In the past, I did a couple different build-outs that combined two units, but never three units. This was something new.” Evans has customized many units at Mercantile lofts. He frequently assists on construction management for the property and is a consultant for renovation when needed. He describes the Rosenbaum’s finished space as a “contemporary-modern design with an emphasis on custom wooden cabinets in the kitchen and wooden arch case openings combining the units.”

This slot machine is modern and used on Island of Macau.p The lighter belonged to a great aunt on Richard’s mother’s side. Poker chips are from Richard’s childhood home and were his father’s.

This slot machine is modern and used on Island of Macau.p The lighter belonged to a great aunt on Richard’s mother’s side. Poker chips are from Richard’s childhood home and were his father’s.

It was the combination of all of these elements that allowed the Rosenbaums to feel like they were home. The traditional feel of their Simpsonville home had been brought to Mercantile Lofts through the cabinetry, subtle design elements and even furniture, perfectly complementing the building’s modern aesthetic. “I like how this turned out because it’s what I envisioned,” says Janet. “It’s warm and comfortable.”

Now, 189 years later, a new set of Rosenbaums have returned to the property, and it’s here they’ll add to the story of this wonderful legacy, enjoying the space and everything it has to offer. VT

by Nicholas Moore