When I was around eight years old, I fantasized about living in an apartment. Just me and my mother (and maybe a dog or two). Apartment buildings seemed so foreign and exotic to me – and as the youngest child, the idea of having my mother all to myself was appealing. I shared this memory with my nephew as we walked by the Kirk Apartments in Maysville, a four-story delight of early 20th century Revival eclecticism.
In the spring of 1916, Maysville was a blossoming, bustling city. Burley tobacco filled the city’s coffers – Maysville was home to the world’s largest tobacco warehouse, Home Tobacco Warehouse, constructed in 1912. The city council sought to improve the looks of the city, and private development promised new buildings to meet the needs of the growing town. One of those buildings was the “modern flat building” planned by Mr. E.T. Kirk.
The four story, U-shaped brick building, located on West Second Street, was designed by the firm of C.C. and E.A Weber of Cincinnati, Ohio. The Weber Brothers won the commission to design the Kentucky Governor’s Mansion in Frankfort, Kentucky (built 1912-1914), and worked a great deal in Ft. Thomas, Kentucky.
The firm McDowell and Case won the contract to construct the building with a bid of $30,000. Although I’ve only ever walked by the building, its footprint would allow plenty of natural light into the rooms – described in a 1914 newspaper article as “modernly-equipped 3-room flats.”
The Kirk Apartments isn’t lodged up against other tall buildings, but sits removed, on a large grassy lot, in a neighborhood of mostly single-family homes (dating from the early 19th century on). The four-story frame gallery, or porches, at the rear of the building, overlooked the Ohio River.
It is a statement of a building, erected at a time when Maysville’s future was bright and busy. Accented with stone, and imposing in scale, the building would have rocketed my childhood daydreams into overdrive.