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Former Hamilton furniture store becomes 2 apartments, event space

Todd and Joan Stidham have created their dream residence in a former downtown Hamilton furniture store, and also created a similar 2-bedroom, 2-bathroom apartment for someone else.

The residences feature 7-foot-tall windows and soaring ceilings.

They restored the beautiful, original wooden floors they believe are “some kind of pine” that had been painted brown.

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The Stidhams moved into their three-story building at the northeast corner of 3rd and Ludlow streets from the Rossville neighborhood in late May. The pair grew up in Fairfield (Class of ‘83 and ‘84), but had been living in Hamilton since 1988.

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After she graduated from college, they couldn’t afford a house in Fairfield and moved into Hamilton “until we could afford to move,” Joan Stidham said. “And we really liked Hamilton, and we raised our family here, and we’ve had a couple houses here. This, hopefully, will be our last location.”

“We really are believers in Hamilton,” she said. “That’s why we bought in Hamilton and wanted to run a business here.”

She’s a member of Hamilton’s 17Strong effort, which is working to strengthen all 17 of Hamilton’s 17 neighborhoods.

Both their daughters graduated from Hamilton High School and moved on to quality colleges.

The Stidhams took two years searching for the building where they now live.

“We knew we wanted a building in Hamilton, and we knew we wanted a building we had the ability to transform — Todd’s skill set (as a carpenter), we knew we wanted something as a fixer-upper,” Joan Stidham said. “We knew we wanted something where we could have some income, a duplex or something with a retail space. We looked at places on Main Street.”

“And one day,” she added, “Todd called and said, ‘I think I found our building.’”

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Todd, who many years worked for himself as a carpenter at Todd Stidham Home Repair, enjoyed the layout and the light that streamed into the structure.

“I just thought the layout was fantastic, and it had so much nice, natural light, with those giant windows in front,” he said.

They believe the building had been empty more than a decade. There was water damage and birds had lived inside.

“But he kept saying, ‘This has great bones,’” she said. “This is it.”

They are still finishing the street-level meeting room.

“There might be meetings and professional-learning situations,” Joan Stidham said. “In the evenings, there can be book clubs and baby showers, and small weddings or receptions.”

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The pair said they bet their future on Hamilton because they enjoy the people, and the city.

“We like the diversity. It’s truly a small-town. It has a city to it. It has a history,” Joan said. “Even though I grew up in Fairfield, my parents were Hamilton folks. My mother, the story goes, she cried miserably when my dad made her move to Fairfield, because it was after World War II, there was no housing in Hamilton and they were building new homes (in Fairfield). So my family was always here. We shopped downtown.”

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