The Millard F. Field Building, located at Winchester Avenue and 17th Street in downtown Ashland, Kentucky, was home to the Field Department Store and Sears.
The Field Furniture Company was incorporated by M.F. Field, John Kirk, and William A. Manning in September 1919 with a capital of $125,000. 6 Field began construction of a new $100,000, seven-story store, office, and warehouse building at the corner of Winchester Avenue and 17th Street in January 1921. 7 Designed by F.L. Packard of Columbus, Ohio, it was erected by local contractor H.W. Cox.
In 1947, Sears moved into the Field Building. 8 The first floor was dedicated to men’s and women’s apparel and shoes, while the basement held the sporting goods, automotive accessories, plumbing, heating, and cooling equipment, hardware, and building materials. The second floor held the home fashion departments, while the third floor was home to furniture and carpeting. The credit department was located on the second floor, while general offices were on the fourth and fifth stories. Floors five and six were for stock.
An annex was later constructed, along with a separate automobile service center. 8 A fire caused damage to several of the upper floors in the 1970s. In response, a new facade overlay was installed to conceal the abrasions and to modernize the building’s appearance.
Sears relocated to Cedar Knoll Galleria on the outskirts of the city in 1989. Perry and Susan Madden, who owned the Henry Clay House, purchased the Field Building and reused the structure for several retail shops and businesses with the goal of developing 40 senior citizen-oriented apartments on the upper floors. 9 Additionally, the former one-story J.C. Penny structures between the Field Building and the Henry Clay House was set to be demolished and replaced with a parking lot, 2 although the plans were later revised to allow for the eventual construction of 40 apartments in a new four-story structure.
To finance the project, the Madden’s applied for state housing and federal historic preservation tax credits. In May 2005, the Kentucky Housing Corporation (KHC) approved $416,000 in housing tax credits towards the renovations.
In 2000, the A.D. Restoration Company began removing the facade overlay but stopped work when the company declared bankruptcy. Rail Construction of Cannonsburg began work to finish the removal of the facade overlay on June 1, 2005, which took over one week to complete. 1 Demolition of the former J.C. Penny buildings began on January 16, 2017, but restoration work on the Field Building was soon delayed. 4 In early 2008, the city requested that the Madden’s develop a new master plan regarding the Field Building with a deadline of March 1, but after the deadline passed with no new master plan outlined, the city condemned the Field Building on May 1 due to deteriorating mortar and brickwork.
The city accepted an agreement from the Madden’s that saved the Field Building from demolition on October 1, 2009, and gave the Madden’s until April 5, 2010, to complete the stabilization and renovation of the structure. 5 Work on the Field Building began again on October 5, which included pressure washing and repairing brick and masonry, repairing and restoring the terra cotta, and installing new windows.
In August 2013, Kings Daughter’s Home Medical Equipment moved into the ground floor of the partly renovated Field Building, relocating from a former Heck’s department store on 35th Street. 9
- Hart, Kenneth. “Restoration of Sears building begins.” Daily Independent (Ashland) 1 June 2005.
- James, Mike. “Plans call for corner on Winchester to be turned into apartments; several other buildings.” Daily Independent (Ashland) 16 Nov. 2006.
- “Out with the OLD.” Daily Independent (Ashland) 17 Jan. 2007.
- Kirschner, Carrie. “City to condemn Sears building.” Daily Independent (Ashland) 1 May 2008.
- James, Mike. “Maddens agree to repair building.” Daily Independent (Ashland) 1 Oct. 2009.
- “New Incorporations.” Furniture World, 18 Sept. 1919, p. 25.
- “Kentucky.” American Contractor, 15 Jan. 1921, p. 42.
- Preston, Tim. “Sears has a long history in Ashland.” Daily Independent [Ashland], 11 Feb. 2014.
- Stambaugh, Carrie. “KDMC home medical moving downtown.” Daily Independent [Ashland], 3 May 2013.