As the historic properties in downtown Lindsborg were improved, the owner decided to bring a new hospitality concept to Lindsborg--vacation rentals. Lindsborg has had motels and B&Bs for many years. Vacation rentals aren't necessarily better than a chain motel, but they are another increasingly popular option. If you have never stayed in a vacation rental, then try Trädhuset or Vetehuset now!
Investor Brings New Life
to Lindsborg’s History
Salina Journal, Sunday, October 30, 2016 Explore Lindsborg, Autumn & Winter 2016-2017
About ten years ago, Denver resident Jim Prugh was looking for his next adventure. As a chemical engineer, he worked in many small towns in the US and overseas in Norway. He was open to something completely different yet somehow familiar and he wasn’t sure what it could be.
He discovered it—Lindsborg—during a family cross-country drive. Prugh found that his talent for overseeing projects worked surprisingly well n the detailed work of restoring historic buildings.
Prugh owns six historic buildings downtown and a nearby two-bedroom house. Each is more than a century old. Combined, the structures feature a mix of residential lofts, retail space and vacation rentals. Prugh’s buildings have helped create a burst of new downtown businesses—clothing designer, toy store, ceramist, coffee roastery among them—as well as new housing options.
Prugh’s strategy? Infuse thought and research, quality material and energy efficiency into historic buildings. His goal? Build economic value that can be seen immediately as well as for generations to come. His working premise? As a historic preservationist, he has just one chance to get everything right the first time.
“I never plane on having a portfolio of buildings on the National Register of Historic Places,” Prugh chuckled. “I just started with one building to see if I could make it happen. Lots of other people have done this around the country, so how hard could it be?” It was more challenging than he imagined, but certainly feasible.
What did he see in Lindsborg that made him experiment the first time?
One important thing was apparent: “plenty of buildings with good bones—buildings that he the essence, architecture and local history worth preserving.”
Another reason was, and still is, the surprising local vibe—education, arts, and accomplished residents.
“It’s difficult to describe,” Prugh said, recalling how he and his spouse Diane Fatheree tried to put what they noticed into words. “We both looked at each other and tilted our heads a little. What is this doing in a small town in the middle of Kansas? I wanted to be part of this community.”
Having learned from his first historic preservation project at 105 North Main Street Prugh felt emboldened. He resolved to gather a team that could help him with a second project. Than a third, a fourth.
“I knew from my engineering background that the right team, with expertise and patience, make the improbable possible,” he noted. “I enjoy working visually, so I see and design in my imagination. As an engineer, I relish working within established rules, such as the state and federal requirements for historic preservation. It’s fun to generate new designs inside the confines of the roof, foundation, floor plan and four walls of a very old building.”
Enter experience historic renovator and craftsman Brian Freeman who moved from Goodland six years ago. He and his spouse Victoria Freeman learned of Prugh’s projects shortly before their move to Lindsborg. Right place, right time, right skills. The Freemans brought their experiences and sensibilities to the table, and sought out other professionals, in Lindsborg and across central Kansas, who would add their creative, even artistic sensibilities to Prugh’s downtown buildings.
“Every week Brian and I analyze the broadest concepts and the tiniest details. How will the electric system be installed safely to code? Which blend of mortar is best for repointing Lindsborg’s soft clay brick? Which water-based stain is best for the refinished floors? You found a vintage advertisement for overalls on the brick wall of The Ivory Thimble? How cool is that!”
Getting acquainted with Lindsborg’s residents was crucial to Prugh’s ongoing efforts—a process of building mutual trust that Lindsborg undertook with Prugh.
“I grew up in small towns, so I know that it takes consistent personal contact over time. I always try to be myself. As an introvert, I force myself to talk more than I’m used to. However, after assuring everyone that I’m mostly Swedish Lindsborg gave me a chance. I’ve run with it for nearly a decade now.”
“Of everything I’ve built,” Prugh said, “I’m most proud of my reputation.”
While the record keeping required to generate historic tax credits is not insignificant, Prugh enjoys the daily intellectual challenge of breathing new life into Lindsborg’s historic buildings.
“It’s been a blast,” he admitted with a big smile. Then his smile turned to a look of determination. “I’ve said this before, but now I’m really serious. I’m not buying any more buildings!”