Historic Hudson Office Remodel

Kelli Kaufer designs a modern loft for Eckberg Lammers firm while retaining the building’s historic integrity.

Located on the corner of Walnut Street and Second Avenue, the law firm of Eckberg Lammers P.C. is in the historic Goss-Boyden building, built in 1871. As the firm was looking to renovate their office space, they also wanted to preserve the historical look and feel as much as possible.

The firm engaged Kelli Kaufer of Kelli Kaufer Designs, a Stillwater-based commercial and residential designer.

“They wanted to keep the integrity of the building and enhance it,” says Kaufer, who was also a lead HGTV and DIY Network designer. “A lot of commercial spaces are turning more toward unique, home-like spaces, so it’s not so cold and industrial. It’s a fine line and difficult to do, but a lot of fun.”

The project began last June and was completed in early October, and highlights the one-of-a-kind elements found in the historic space. The remodel was focused on the second story (previously divided and rented as residences). The 1,450-square-foot space was completely gutted and reframed, reconfiguring the floor plan to accommodate four offices, a conference room, a new bathroom and a copy center. There was also a stunning new staircase added, connecting the remodel to the main floor.

Kaufer’s aim was to furnish this office in ways that would be both functional and fitting for the urban, modern vibe her clients were after.

Back to Brick

As the space was completely gutted, the plaster and lath walls were removed, exposing the 100-year-old brick, which became the focal point of the updated, industrial, open-air space.

During the construction, the team found that portions of the brick were blackened, likely the result of a fire.

“It’s interesting when you take down the walls and see what really happened to a space,” Kaufer says. “There was a whole bunch of black on the brick that had to be cleaned and restored.

“Layers of the original masonry walls are separated with wood and gives the space a feeling as if you’ve stepped back in time, and really sets the tone for the industrial feel. The texture is just so cool.”

Room with a View

The span of antique brick is broken up by columns of sizable arched windows, which bring in a ton of natural light and offer charming views of Main Street from the conference room. The brick wall and bank of windows run throughout the hallway.

Tall ceilings allowed for transom windows in the conference room and in all offices above the doors and walls, which let additional light into the office spaces. Motorized shades were added to filter the light.

“We added all the beautiful trim to give it more of a regal, handsome look,” says Kaufer of the cherry woodwork around the windows and baseboards that match the first floor.

The nostalgic architecture works elegantly with more modern office furnishings, which have to be functional to meet the needs of the employees.

“The challenge is how you make that functioning space into a cool environment, one that speaks to my client, their expectations, wants and needs, along with maintaining the integrity of the building,” Kaufer says.

A 75-inch flat-screen television hangs on the wall, and a high-tech table with a concrete-like finish is centered in the conference room. Muted grays and sepia tones are offset by vibrant orange office chairs and a fun Mid-century pod chair for pops of color, which Kaufer chose to bring into the firm’s branding.

Carpet squares also are used on the floor, which Kaufer says functions well in a highly trafficked commercial space.

Reclaimed Accents

To make a grand entrance to the expansion, a brand-new stairway was built. The very open, modern staircase has iron railings and reclaimed wood from the original space.

“Once we took down the ceiling, there were a whole bunch of beams in here that were repurposed. We had those milled and used for the stairs,” Kaufer says. “They tried to salvage as much as they could and repurpose it back into the building.”

One priority for the firm is connection with the community, so Kaufer contacted local artisans to create one-of-a-kind light fixtures. Erin Staeck and Roger E. Quast of Archaic Notions created custom chandelier fixtures made with elbows and spokes of black pipe and Edison bulbs. They also created a console table for the conference room made from galvanized piping that was aged, welded and topped with more reclaimed wood.

Staeck works from her Stillwater home on commissioned projects, which involve upcycling items into artistic pieces. Quast also creates Ratrods, unique vehicles that the couple tour at car shows around the country.

“We try to take things that have been discarded and make them useful, either as it was originally intended or something unexpected,” Staeck says. “Kelli was great to work with, and we went back and forth on the project, creating exactly what they wanted for the space. I like for people to be part of the process, and we can build it together.”

The Final Touch

To complete the look and feel of the space, Kaufer carefully selected artwork and accessories. “You don’t want anything to take away from or compete with the brick,” she says.

The St. Croix Valley Historical Society helped with the artwork, as Kaufer procured several photographs of the exterior of the building from its 100-year history. She made oversize canvas prints in sepia tones, which now hang throughout the space.

During the renovation, Kaufer discovered a large stained-glass window on the floor lying against a wall. It wasn’t going to work with their design, so they donated it to St. Croix Valley Historical Society. The donation was written up in The Bulletin, and the article was mounted and hung in the lobby for posterity. 

Preserving History

The Eckberg Lammers Law Offices sit today at 430 Second St., in what is known as the Goss-Boyden Building, built in 1871. The building’s namesake, Alfred Goss, was a prominent businessman and banker who was an officer of the First National Bank of Hudson. He became president of Hudson Savings Bank in 1870 and invested in construction of downtown buildings. The Hudson Savings Bank failed in the panic of 1893, and Harry L. North spearheaded its reopening as the Bank of Hudson.

The building once had a window with “Bank of Hudson” fashioned in stained glass. During the recent remodel, the 10-feet-by-3-feet window was found in storage, and Eckberg Lammers donated it to the St. Croix County Historical Society.

“We are eager to display this ‘window to Hudson’s past.’ Like many of the artifacts at the Octagon House Museum that have been donated by people and businesses in the community, this window has a local connection; it has a story to tell and history to share,” says Jacki Bradham, marketing chairperson and treasurer of the St. Croix County Historical Society. “It truly is a treasure, and once restored it will be beautiful to behold, but right now it is a diamond in the rough and in much need of polishing and repair.”

Bradham says they estimate the restoration and display will cost around $5,000, and they have begun fundraising efforts for this project. The window will eventually be displayed in the Museum Garden House.

If you’re interested in making a donation to the window restoration fund, visit stcroixcountyhistory.org/donate. The historical society is a 501(c)3 charitable organization.