Talk of the Town - Something old, something new November 16 2005

Partners combine contemporary with touches from the past

Calvin Lockwood's Castleberry Hill loft is his own center for work, leisure, entertainment and living. Lockwood and his partner, Steve Messer, first moved into the 1910 building in the early '90s and took on the challenge of converting the space into what now houses the Granite Gallery, Lockwood's studio, a rental apartment and a storage basement, not to mention personal living quarters.

The two combine tradition with modernity through clever ways. Staircases are made from the original building's wood, with saw marks indicating the age of the material. A mix of fresh dry-wall, original brick and chipped paint covers the loft's walls. Two 10-foot-tall doors taken from an old theater open up into the living space, which is furnished with vibrant contemporary furniture. The residential area is complete with three decks and a spiral staircase leading to their sunroom.

Lockwood's loft has also served as a studio for many other companies: commercials for BellSouth, ESPN and Headline News have all been shot in Lockwood and Messer's home.

This place is huge. What was it before you moved in?

Lockwood: It was first a dry goods store in 1910, and then became a chicken hatchery in the 1930s. In the 1960s, the building became a furniture store until right before we bought the place in 1993.

What changes have you seen in Castleberry Hill since 1993?

Lockwood: Most of the buildings were either empty or commercial businesses. The first loft conversion was done in 1984. Most of the buildings have now been converted into residential spaces.

What was this place like when you moved in?

Messer: It was a 5,000-square-foot room with only the elevator in place. We used to ride our bikes in here.

Lockwood: The roof was leaking so bad in one spot that there was a 32-gallon trash can with a hose attached to it to drain water to the bathroom.

How did you get through the renovations?

Messer: The deck was our sanctuary to get away from all the construction.

Lockwood: Not many people could live through [nearly] 13 years of dust. So now, having a place that we're finally settled into is good, even though there's always work on the building to improve it.

I've noticed most of the walls are neutrally tinted. What purpose does this serve?

We did the walls neutral for photography. When someone comes in and rents it out, they usually want neutral backgrounds.

Out of all the renovations, which one do you enjoy the most?

Messer: The ceiling used to go straight across the second floor. Then we gutted all that and opened it all up so we could have the sunroom upstairs. That has been the best thing we've done.


HGTV is airing a special about their home on Nov. 20 at 9:30 p.m. For other showtimes, visit www.hgtv.com.