Adaptive Reuse in Historic District
Mechanical Engineer - Central Kansas Engineering Consultants, LLC
Photographer - Harold Gaston
Mulready’s is a favorited local Irish style pub in downtown Emporia, Kansas. The transformation the existing building underwent to become “your neighborhood bar” is what makes this project stand out and resonate with the community of Emporia.
At the onset of the project the building was used as an office with wood famed interior walls and drop ceilings. The front façade had been infilled with brick and consisted of three windows and a large vinyl awning. Behind these retrofit changes was a historic building waiting to be revealed. Initially, the building was non-contributing to the downtown historic district, but after the renovation the building was listed as contributing. The changes to the façade included removing the brick infill and opening up the façade to include large storefront windows and a brick bulkhead below. Allowing pedestrians on the street and cars passing by to view into the bar area made the bar more approachable and gave it a welcoming feel. The existing bars in the area mostly had dark tinted the glass or did not have windows on the façade of the building facing the street. The signage above the large windows was also atypical in the downtown area. Instead using awnings as signage or using backlit signage Mulready’s used traditional cut letters installed into the mortar joints of the brick to prevent damage to the historic brick. The sign was lit from below with two stylized lamps. Interior renovations included a complete demolition of the interior walls and floor slab. The floor slab was damaged and needed to be replaced. The new slab sloped the entire length of the building at a very low grade from front to back. This alleviated the need for an ADA ramp due to the grade change from the street to the back exit.
Opening the front façade to the public and creating a welcoming historic building in downtown Emporia has inspired many more businesses to move to the downtown area and has encouraged other building owners to look into improving their own spaces. Mulready’s is one of the first of many projects that has spurred a trend of revitalization of downtown Emporia. Today, not only can you grab a beer at Mulready’s you can join in on a yoga class or look at the latest Emporia State University student artwork.