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  • Writer's picturecocodensmore

The Henry Clay

Loa sat down at her laptop and began searching the internet to find her new home.

The cost of living in Louisville was lower than Seattle, so Loa knew rents would be more reasonable. That fact, combined with her new higher salary, meant she could live downtown. She was a city girl through and through. The idea of living in the heart of Louisville thrilled her.

Loa loved old things and found vintage buildings particularly charming. They were portals into the past, with their layers of paint on paint, exposed pipes, remnants of antique wiring, worn railings, creaky stairs, and even their musty old smells. There were mismatched cut ins in walls and staircases and passageways, and cupboards and closets in the most unexpected places. What Loa loved best were the subtly distorted images seen through wavy glass, which made her feel as if she’d traveled back in time.

She spent some time looking at the newer complexes, knowing it was far more prudent to go with all the modern conveniences, but she quickly abandoned that search. She started looking at the Victorian homes in Old Louisville that had been converted into apartments and condos. There were dozens, all reasonably priced. Loa thought it would be smart to be within walking distance of her office building, so she shifted her search north towards the heart of the city. There was a great deal of new construction, and a handful of older complexes built between the 1970s and 2000, which had the modern conveniences but not the charm.

On a whim, she called Deanne and asked if she knew of any old buildings near the office that had been converted to apartments.

“The Henry Clay!” Deanne said, without a moment’s hesitation. “A beautiful old building, on the historic register, about eight blocks south of the river. You’d love it!”

“The Henry Clay…” Loa said faintly, falling in love with the name as it left her lips. Deanne told Loa it’s the only building downtown that when you drive by calls out “Hey… You…!”

They spoke a bit about her travel arrangements, but Loa was anxious to get off the phone and resume her internet search.

Loa entered “Henry Clay, Louisville” in the search bar and hit Enter. There it was: the magnificent building in black and white, with the caption “The Henry Clay, 1920s”. Captivated, she knew this was her new home. She immediately picked up the phone and called the management company, but Louisville was three hours ahead, so she got their answering service.

She continued to research late into the night, studying pictures of the interior spaces and luxurious ballrooms, both before and after restoration. The ballrooms were on the second and fourth floors, and there was a theatre on the third. She was thrilled to know she was just an elevator ride away from a production performed by a local theatre troupe.

There were staged photos of apartment interiors featuring modern furnishings, which to Loa were an ugly insult to the incredible historic trappings of the building.

She was disappointed in the modern cabinetry, but the floors stripped to cement provided a blank canvas for her antique carpets and French Country furnishings. Loa knew exactly which apartment on exactly which floor she wanted and had already studied the floorplan she’d found online. She’d already started sketching out where she’d place her furniture.

Eight massive windows wrapped the perimeter of the corner apartment, with panoramic views of downtown Louisville.

At 6:00 the following morning, her phone rang. She fumbled to grab it from under her pillow and answer the call from the 502 number before it went to voicemail. She knew it was the management company because anyone else would have known about the time difference.

“Hello!” Loa said excitedly.

“Hello,” a man’s British accented voice responded. “I understand you’re interested in renting an apartment in the Henry Clay.”

“I am indeed,” Loa said.


An excerpt from my novel, A Louisville Love Story.



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