Alex Thompson bought The Henery Hotel building for $24,999, with plans to restore it close to its original look and open it as an apartment building with the look and feel of the early 1900s.
Now, in the Spring of 2018, he has come closer to that goal.
“It’s one of those things I knew right from the beginning,” said Thompson. “Everybody wanders in or at least looks at the front of something and goes ‘I’ve got all the right ideas.’
But then after spending a little bit of time in the building, looking at the project, you come to your senses and do more, sort of quality and less just spur of the moment, forcing something to work that probably wasn’t going to.”
Thompson has done a lot to the building since last spring. He has completed three rooms and finished restoring most of the roof.
Restoring one room is a process. Thompson has to clean out the debris and dirt the building has collected from being neglected.
Thompson isn’t alone on this project. Local artists help speed up the project.
“The real solution to everything is support your local artists and they will support you,” Thompson said.
Last spring, Thompson envisioned waking up in one of the hotel’s rooms in the morning after it was finished, taking the elevator downstairs and getting a cup of coffee.
And about a year later, that’s exactly what he is doing, getting his coffee from Terra Coffee, located in the Mexican Heritage Center right next door.
“The convenience of waking up in the morning, taking the elevator or stairs down to the lobby, going next door and grabbing a cup of coffee is amazing,” said Thompson.
Sometimes Thompson said he stays the night in one of the finished rooms for security and architectural purposes.
Being in the room could make one feel as though they have traveled back in time to the early 1900s. Thompson has furnished rooms with antique, vintage type telephones and clocks, along with an old ventless alcohol burning fireplace.
The style Thompson was going for with the decor and paint job and furnishings for the room is Art Nouveau inspired, set to look like a smokey, dimly lit room.
“I staged it because, at the same time, this art show was happening and I wanted to bring everybody over and go ‘look what this can look like,’” Thompson said. “Because I realize that an empty room doesn’t do much for people’s imagination.”
All of the rooms will have their own artistic character. It’s safe to say that no room will look the same.
“There’s no purpose in making these identical. They weren’t went they were built,” Thompson said, referring to the rooms.
Other than cleaning out the rooms and hallways of the hotel, Thompson is also putting work into the roof.
The hotel is six stories high and getting full five gallons of materials up and down the stairway leading to the roof would be difficult, so Thompson came up with a solution.
“I had to get about thirty to forty of those five gallon buckets up here, so I looked backwards to some Roman technology and built a crane,” he said.
Repairs were made to the roof with asphalt in order to stop the leaking, which was causing more damage.
Right now Thompson is splitting his time between restoring the Henry Hotel and opening up an art gallery on Walnut Street.
“I’m 50-50 timing everything between an art gallery I’m trying to start up on Walnut Street and this building, which will be an evolved version of said art gallery when it fully opens as an apartment building,” Thompson said. “As many irons in the fire as possible, that’s why none of them ever get cool.”