Jessica Harrington was looking for downtown living when she moved to Mason City 2½ years ago.
She more than found it in an approximately 1,500-square-foot loft above Moorman’s Clothiers.
“I came to Mason City for work, and prior to that I have always lived in downtown environments,” said Harrington, an interior designer. “So it was a natural fit for me and (had) a natural appeal.”
The loft, 9 E. State St., is one of three apartments owned by Scott Moorman, who also owns the clothing store.
A true loft, the dwelling’s only interior floor-to-ceiling walls are around the bathroom. It was designed by former building tenant Joshua Brueggeman, an architect with Accord Architecture in Mason City.
The renovation retained as much of the character as possible while creating a modern space.
The 11.5-foot ceilings are lined with stamped tin, which Moorman found in the building’s storage room.
Exposed ductwork, custom-designed railings and tin crown molding give the space an industrial flair.
The long length of the apartment is broken up aesthetically by a raised and carpeted platform, which is currently being used as a bedroom area.
The different elevation and flooring, as well as the custom-designed railings, allowed Bruggeman to define separate spaces without using walls.
The kitchen is on the main level, which is covered in hardwood. It has stainless steel appliances, a dark laminate countertop and an 8-foot island.
Rent is $1,250 monthly. High-speed internet, cable, heat, electric, water, sewer and use of an in-unit washer and drier are included.
“The kitchen and the living room and the dining room — it’s all just one big area,” Harrington said. “When I entertain we all end up around that island. We never sit down at the couch or anything.”
Harrington has a great view of the action downtown from three floor-to-ceiling windows.
“I think you’re more tempted to go out because it’s just right there, but then also it was very easy for me to entertain,” she said. “My house kind of became the meeting spot for everybody, because if they had to travel in we could all meet at my place beforehand and then go out to dinner.”
A designer by trade, Harrington also was drawn to living in a historic building.
“It’s definitely a modern expression of architecture, and it’s a modern experience of living inside of a building, inside of something,” she said.
Built in 1873, the limestone building’s first tenant was City Bank. It housed the financial institution until 1910 when the bank, then known as City National Bank, moved across the street to a building designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.
Since 1910, the building — 1 S. Federal Avenue — has housed a billiard hall, barbershop, cigar shop, candy stores, jewelers, financial services, a pharmacy and card shop.
Harrington, who plans to move to the Des Moines area, has felt the separation pains while apartment hunting for a new home in Iowa’s capital.
“For me to get a comparable lifestyle, meaning living downtown and living in an open floor plan concept in a modern expression, I had easily half the square footage for about three-quarters of what I’m paying now,” she said.
“I’ll shed a tear when I leave this place,” she said.