It would have been easy for Bowling Green attorneys Matt McGill and Brian Lowder to let their aging office building at 537 E. 10th Ave. fall into disrepair when they purchased it three years ago.
After all, a building that dates to 1927 takes a healthy investment of time and money to simply maintain, and a major rehabilitation of such buildings can quickly devolve into “money pit” territory.
Thankfully, Lowder and McGill opted to not let the building and its rich history deteriorate, as other owners of aging structures have done too often.
Instead, the attorneys invested in what has been nearly a year-long process to not only preserve the exterior look of a building once used as a National Guard armory but to enhance the interior so that it is a modern, functional headquarters for their law practice and for other tenants.
As McGill said, the law partners “didn’t want to alter the historical significance” of the building.
And it has plenty of significance.
As the word “armory” engraved atop the building’s limestone facade indicates, it is still known to many longtime Bowling Green residents as the home of the National Guard armory that once housed a gymnasium used for dances and other public events.
Lowder and McGill didn’t purchase the gymnasium part of the armory, which has been transformed into the Armory Loft Apartments that face Chestnut Street.
But that doesn’t lessen the importance of the three-story, 10,000-square-foot structure the attorneys first leased space in before buying from Steve Downey in 2018.
To their credit, Lowder and McGill recognized that importance and took appropriate steps to preserve it.
With the help of local contractors Keith and Terry Hatler, they transformed the aging interior into a modern-looking office building that meets their law firm’s needs as well as those of two other tenants.
The finishing touches were cleaning that impressive limestone exterior and installing a steel door, giving the building an appearance that must be similar to how it looked during the Great Depression years of the 1930s.
Those years were among the most eventful for the 10th Avenue building and gave it a link to an infamous event involving Bowling Green native Henry Denhardt.
A brigadier general in the U.S. Army, Denhardt served a stint as adjutant general of the Kentucky National Guard and thus was in command of the National Guard armory in Bowling Green.
Denhardt, who was Kentucky’s lieutenant governor from 1923 to 1927, was shot and killed in 1937 by the brothers of a woman he was accused of murdering.
That incident and the tales surrounding it made national news and added to the mystique of the National Guard armory, where Denhardt’s body briefly lay in state.
Clearly, the Lowder and McGill building has a rich history that makes it part of the fabric of Bowling Green and an edifice worth preserving.
We’re grateful that the owners have done so, and in a manner that will benefit the community for years to come.