Cool Spaces – The 1841 Mercury Building – a cool place to work past & present

February 25, 2015 at 5:00 am

Mercury was the Roman god of communication, commerce and messaging.

Built in 1841 and located at 313 Franklin Street, Huntsville’s Mercury Building was home for many years to a weekly publication called The Mercury. Today it is a vibrant hub of design, communication, messaging and creativity. The basement level and all three floors contain cool spaces for an architect, artists, photographers, designers and event planners.

For nearly 111 continuous years, 1812-1923, Huntsville was served by a weekly newspaper operating under various names as ownership changed or consolidations occurred. The Civil War interrupted publication briefly from 1863-1865 as the city was under Union occupation and the paper’s editors removed the printing press from the building and secured it in Lacy’s Spring during the interim.

In 1883 the name The Mercury was given to the paper by Colonel Robert Rhett, father of H. M. Rhett founder of Rison Bank. Colonel Rhett had arrived in Huntsville from New Orleans where he was editor-in-chief of a New Orleans paper.

Today the three story building is owned by architect Jeff Thomas who maintains his office and design studio on the street level. Jeff and his wife Janet bought the building in 2001. A family connection came when Jeff discovered a receipt for a newspaper subscription dated 1886 proving that Jeff’s great grandfather engaged in commerce in the building.

This building is a very cool work space. Currently used by multiple entrepreneurs, each imprinting their space with style, personality and efficiency. Exposed timbers, exposed brick walls, and large bright original windows make this a very appealing environment for communication and creativity.

Jeff Thomas celebrates the buildings age by incorporating historical pieces intertwined with the modern necessities of an architectural firm. As projects are approved, he posts the architectural renderings on a long wall that showcases his work.

“I am an architect but I am also an inventor” explains Jeff as he describes the inventions, some patented, which are also on display in the space. An illuminated fishing net and illuminated football are among his “garage” ideas.

Panciera=Design occupies the basement level. Scott Panciera and Todd Page have created a cool space. The drop ceiling has been transformed by cutting squares of luaun to replace acoustical tiles and cutting circular patterns in some squares to soften florescent lighting. The long wall highlights logo and branding icons he has created. A “feature shelf” displays examples of packaging designs.

On the second floor Fave Creative and Homegrown share a space. Adriane Van Kirk is a brand developer offering design,marketing & advertising services while Nicole Westendorf and Ashley Ryals create local events such as Dine & Dash and the Beer Hop as well as planning private catered events for individuals and companies.

Also on the second floor, Kerry & Missy Brooks, have a cool space: Brooks Photography. As high-end portrait and wedding photographers their space is a venue for “champagne viewings” of photos in a comfortable well-lit space. As photographers who once worked out of their home, Kerry and Missy love putting clients at ease in a stylish setting.

On the third floor Olivia Reed is also a photographer who loves her Mercury Building location. Olivia specializes in baby photography and also uses the architecturally interesting settings of downtown Huntsville to create special portraits. “Downtown Huntsville is my studio. I can walk out the building and use the Church of the Nativity, Harrison Brothers, Constitution Village, or the old First National Bank and Big Spring Park as backdrops”.

Also on the third floor, painter Leslie Lockhart leases space to create still life and landscape work that she offers at art shows throughout the area such as the Monte Sano Art Show and Panoply. She creates pet portraits for those who want a beloved furry friend immortalized.

Finally, best friends Pam Gann and Charlie Bonner collaborate in a space they consider their “girl cave.” They both live within walking distance to their homes so this space is a place to meet for lunch and practice painting.

The Mercury is not a very large building. But it contains multiple cool working spaces for creating, collaborating and celebrating downtown Huntsville. Once home to a Huntsville newspaper named The Mercury, the Mercury building continues to be a center of commerce, messaging, communication and creativity.

Publication Title

al.com | By Bob & Lou Gathany

Issue

February 25, 2015

  View Online

More From Homegrown Huntsville