A building in Princeton's historic district will give you the experience of living in a different American time period while enjoying the comforts of a completely renovated large loft apartment.
Originally built in 1867 — two years after the Civil War — the three-story building at 636 S. Main St., Princeton, originally was the home of the First National Bank. It was remodeled in 1916 before it became a law office. There also was a Masonic Hall on the third floor, but a fire in 1955 fire ravaged that floor.
“My father and I owned the building in the 1950s,” said owner Ernie Parr. “Back then, he and I worked downstairs when the office was an insurance business. Actually, I grew up in Princeton, went to school here. Later I went to the University of Kentucky, graduated, moved to the country, then came back to Princeton. I've lived here five years.
“When I grew up, there was an electric rail in front of this building,” Parr continued. “It went from Bureau County through Ottawa and on to Joliet. There's just a lot of history to this building and the area that started two years after the Civil War.”
Parr purchased the building after his father, Harold, passed away. He bought it knowing that, like most historical buildings, this one would need a total restoration. So, combining his love for the building's history with an exquisite contemporary style, he created a breath-taking living space.
During the last four years, Parr completely updated the loft's wiring, lighting, plumbing, insulation, exterior and interior doors. He totally remodeled the kitchen and bath. The kitchen features Knotty Alder cabinets, stainless steel appliances and granite countertop and island. The loft is an open floor plan with one bedroom that includes an original brick wall and a walk-in closet.
All of the renovations were completed with Parr's mission to keep all of the building's historical charm.
“The contemporary fire place is embedded in stone we purchased from Maze Lumber,” Parr said. “But we kept a lot of original historic parts of the building, and I think what we kept absolutely fits with all the remodeling we did.”
The first thing you see when you open the bedroom door is a large brick wall that Parr said is an original part of the building. The living room features a brick wall dating to 1867.
“We love the original leaded stained glass windows in the living room and in the front door's transom,” Parr said. “The wood floors are original, dating back to when this was used as a lawyer's office.”
The back door leads to a large Trek decked terrace with an overhead pergola that features a hot tub, sauna and built-in hard line gas grill. The roof is rubber, ideal for flat roofs because it's durable, pliable, and waterproof. Go down the stairs and you'll find a two-car garage.
“We really enjoy the view from the terrace,” Parr said. “Alisa and I enjoy the view of the city whether it's in the morning or during a nice sunset. And the terrace is large enough for get-togethers with friends and family.”
Like his work in the living space, Parr remodeled the office space with the mission of maintaining the building's historical integrity. The Terrazzo marble floor and Skyros Marble wainscoting were imported from Greece to preserve the character of the First National Bank.
The office space includes eight offices, three bathrooms, three cubicles and a common area. Office updates include two furnaces and two central air units.
“We've really enjoyed living here,” Parr said. “It's comfortable and really a beautiful living space. Living right in the downtown area, there are plenty of restaurants and other places that make downtown so nice to live. You're right in the middle of everything. I think the next owner of this building will be very happy, like I've been.”
• THE LOFT/COMMERCIAL BUILDING at 636 S. Main St., Princeton, is priced at $325,000. The building is listed by agent Dee Barrera, from Starved Rock Realty. For more information, call 815-667-9990 or 815-252-9696.