Almost everyone who grew up or lives in Lauderdale or Colbert County (and probably farther away than that) knows the House of Vacuums in East Florence, which is now developing into the Sweetwater District. Located in the same row of historic buildings on Huntsville Road as Staggs, it was a staple business that had been at this location since 1968. Unfortunately with the changing economy, the House of Vacuums closed in December 2017. Early in 2018, High Cotton Homes realized with our continued growth (and being overrun with shingles, Hardie board, and blue prints in our house), that we were going to need an office space. We knew we wanted a location accessible to both Lauderdale and Colbert County and something with character and plenty of space, so when we found out about the House of Vacuums, it struck our interest.
On first impression, the building needed a lot of work. Temporary walls were in place to hold the second story up, plaster and paint were peeling from the walls, and the beautiful windows were boarded up. The vacancy had done a lot of damage to this old structure. But even as we tiptoed carefully on the sagging second floor with our flashlights, we could see the charm buried in the building. With the news of the Sweetwater District in the works, we decided this would be the perfect location for High Cotton Homes.
We began the restoration in September 2018. Step 1 was demo. Lots of demo. More demo. If we counted correctly, there's been 32 dumpster fulls removed from this building. Before we purchased the building, 28 dumpsters were filled! Then we've added 4 more. We had to get everything out so we could see the real bones of this building. The building is actually part of a row of buildings that are all connected. The "House of Vacuums" was three buildings, all with a basement, street level, and second story. There are solid walls between each building with doors cut in the brick. It had the traditional ceilings that were used in the early 1900's. There was no subfloor, but only thin hardwoods nailed down. The plumbing and electric had been retrofitted into the antique structure. Our first concern was the condition of the actual structure; once we knew everything was safe, we stepped back and realized what a treasure we had in this building!
For our next steps, continue on to House of Vacuums, Part 2!
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