The six-story Millard F. Field Building, located at Winchester Avenue and 16th Street in downtown Ashland, Kentucky, was home to the Field Department Store and later Sears.

In the 1970’s, a fire caused damage to several upper floors and a façade was installed in an attempt to conceal the abrasions and to modernize the building’s facade. Sears relocated to Cedar Knoll Galleria in 1989 and all remaining tenants in the upper floors moved out by 1999. The A.D. Restoration Company began removing the modernized facade in 2000, but work stopped when the company declared bankruptcy.

Perry and Susan Madden, who owned the adjacent Henry Clay House, purchased the Fields Building with hopes to restore the property into a 40-unit senior citizen apartment complex with retail along the first floor.1 The Kentucky Housing Corporation (KHC) approved $416,000 in housing tax credits in May 2005 for the project, although it required partial-occupancy of the building by December 31, 2007. The Maddens also applied for a federal historic preservation tax credit.

Work resumed on June 1 when Rail Construction of Cannonsburg, Kentucky removed more of the modernized facade and the metal awning that had deteriorated over the sidewalk. The process took over one week to complete.1

In early November 2006, the KHC approved of the proposed development.2 The news came upon the realization that without the consent of the KHC, there would be delays regarding paperwork and that the deadline for occupancy might not have been obtained.

The initial plan called for the former one-story former J.C. Penny buildings between the Henry Clay Hotel and the Fields Building to be demolished and replaced with a surface parking lot.2 A low-rise brick wall with iron railing would have been installed as a physical barrier between Winchester Avenue and the parking lot. After the KHC approved of the plans, the master plan was revised, allowing for the construction of 40 apartments that would front Winchester Avenue in a new, four-story structure.

On January 16, 2007, demolition began on the J.C. Penny buildings.3 A foundation was completed but the project stalled. Restoration work on the Fields Building was also delayed.4 In early 2008, the city of Ashland requested that the Maddens develop a new master plan regarding the Fields Building, and gave the developers a March 1 deadline.4 The deadline passed, and on May 1, the city condemned the Fields Building due to deteriorating mortar and brickwork.

On October 1, 2009, the Ashland Board of City Commissioners accepted an agreement from the Maddens that saved the Fields Building from demolition.5 Under the agreement, the Maddens must perform major restoration in four phases and complete the work by April 5, 2010. The work, which began on October 5, included pressure washing and repairing brick and masonry, repairing and restoring the terra cotta, and installing new windows.

[stag_toggle style=”normal” title=”Sources” state=”closed”]
  1. Hart, Kenneth. “Restoration of Sears building begins.” Daily Independent (Ashland) 1 June 2005. 3 June 2005 Article.
  2. James, Mike. “Plans call for corner on Winchester to be turned into apartments; several other buildings.” Daily Independent (Ashland) 16 Nov. 2006. 18 Jan. 2007 Article.
  3. “Out with the OLD.” Daily Independent (Ashland) 17 Jan. 2007. 18 Jan. 2007 Article.
  4. Kirschner, Carrie. “City to condemn Sears building.” Daily Independent (Ashland) 1 May 2008. 8 May 2008 Article.
  5. James, Mike. “Maddens agree to repair building.” Daily Independent (Ashland) 1 Oct. 2009. 4 Oct. 2009 Article.