Mother-daughter duo restores historic building

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The two-story building at 117 Goldsboro St. in downtown Wilson has had a variety of tenants since 1915 including bakeries, tailors, artists and attorneys. A mother-daughter duo is renovating the property in hopes that the industrial chic space will provide the foundation for many more professionals to come.

“The loft could be an artist studio, a professional’s office or a living room,” said Mary Sargent. “It is a completely different concept than other downtown buildings. It is a very flexible space.”

Sargent is taking on the project with her husband and parents, but Sargent and her mom, Anne Odden, are making the bulk of the design decisions. And that included removing about 3 inches of plaster on the walls, the street-level facade and downstairs floor to make way for about 1,700 square feet of space complete with a sprinkler system.

“We bought old doors from an architectural salvage place in Greensboro and my husband refurbished them, and they look really nice,” Sargent said. “We’re mixing a lot of old and new elements with some crazy cool light fixtures.

“We didn’t want it to look synthetic. It will be very unique.”

The unit will include tankless toilets and exposed brick walls.

“Before this was a building, there were windows upstairs (next door) that have been bricked over, but there is a sign that says ‘bottles’ with an arrow pointed down.,” said Odden. “It was a nightclub and people would throw their empty beer bottles into a trash can on the ground. We’re going to restore it keep the history there.”

As a nod to the more than century of history, the duo commissioned a legend detailing the former tenants — including the first location of John Shealey’s Bakery — that will hang near the mahogany front. Sargent, who also is working on redeveloping property on Barnes Street with her in-laws, said she decided to join the downtown Wilson revitalization after seeing developers from other areas invest.

“All the naysayers — and there are a lot that are born and raised in Wilson — are going to reassess their opinion about downtown as the resurgence thrives,” Odden said, noting similar downtown revitalizations in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and Florence, South Carolina. “We had enough experience with these other towns that we knew something could happen in downtown Wilson with a little bit of effort.”

No one has leased the space yet, but Sargent said she’s had inquiries about live-work spaces and office use as well as a two-level martini bar.

“The bones of downtown Wilson are absolutely fabulous with gorgeous buildings,” Sargent said. “I just believe in the downtown turnaround.”

For information about this building and its availability, contact Mary Sargent at 252-230-8011.