When it was built in 1927, Winchester’s Davis Building was as hub of downtown life. Now, after years of decline, the landmark is on its way to reclaiming status as a downtown anchor thanks to a local couple with a plan for its revival.
Built on the heels of the area’s industrial gas boom to serve the town’s expanded population, the building operated as a small indoor shopping center, with businesses on the first floor and apartments above.
In spite of its prime location in the city’s National Register-listed Courthouse Square Historic District, the Davis Building deteriorated in recent years. Ready to retire and pass the torch, the building’s owners sold the property to local couple Katie and John Lash in May 2022.
“When we first heard it was for sale, our initial reaction was that we could never buy a building. But when we took a look at the details, we realized that if we were really intentional that we might be able to pull it off,” says Katie, who recalls admiring the building as a kid.
“We really just took this on to save the building, generate small business in our town, and recruit talented people to our area by offering unique housing for rent,” she adds.
The Lashes intend to restore the building’s 13 commercial units to house a mix of businesses. They’ve already signed new tenants, including a barbershop and a women’s and children’s clothing boutique. They plan to offer the upper floor residential units as affordable housing for young professionals.
The couple has begun tackling the long list of necessary updates, including masonry work, window and door repairs, skylight repairs, and interior renovations. It has become a family project, with Katie and John’s young twins taking pride in the improvements.
Randolph County United, Randolph County Commissioners, and the City of Winchester have all committed financial resources to the project. Winchester Main Street helped secure a grant from Indiana Landmarks to conduct a feasibility study to help guide repairs. The Lashes are continuing to explore grant opportunities, tax credits, and local options to support the multi-year project.
The family has taken on a huge task, but they aren’t doing it alone. “The outpouring of support from the community has been overwhelming. It has served as a reaffirmation that this was a good choice and that lots of people are rooting for us,” says John.
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