September 5, 2014 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

The phalanx of construction barriers standing guard over so many properties in the Old Market is testimony to the city’s embrace of urban living. The Downtown skyline is now interrupted by an ever increasing array of towering cranes, ones that mirror the eerie angles of gigantic praying mantises straight out of some low budget, ‘50s-era sci-fi flick.

But it wasn’t always that way.

Dan Emanuel, who has lived in the same loft along 14th Street for three decades, is something of an Old Market pioneer.

“This is just a little project of mine,” Emanuel quips. “It just happens to have been spread out over 30 years, but I think it’s finally shaping up into something…real, something that works for me,” he adds in a tone of understatement.

Emanuel owns the historic Medlar Building at 416 S. 14th Street. He operates his business, Emanuel CS, out of the stately building’s main floor and leases offices to other enterprises on the site that was originally built as a tavern in 1903 by the Storz Brewing Company. Lost to the dusty recesses of history is the fact that the tavern never materialized, and two years later the building was purchased by the Medlar printing and publishing company.

Emanuel lives on the third floor of the Classic Revival building designed by noted architect Joseph Guth, whose other area gems include the striking Prague Hotel at 13th and William streets.

The latest chapter in Emanuel’s 30-year-saga came recently when he took over an adjoining apartment in a wall-busting expansion that now has him occupying the entirety of the building’s uppermost floor. He says that he did a good amount of the construction work himself over time, but he partnered with interior designer Julia Russell to ensure that the new areas blended seamlessly with his existing living quarters.

An eclectic mix of Mission furniture is punctuated by complementary pieces in a variety of Mission-friendly genres. A Chinese tea chest sits next to a decidedly Atomic Age Eames lounge chair that is not far away from a Chippendale-inspired side table. The sculptural lines of a small army of houseplants form a foundation that both grounds and punctuates Emanuel’s collection of contemporary art.

A dramatic spiral staircase leads to a handsome rooftop deck outfitted in materials that are more hard-edged and industrial than those found below. A built-in bench is executed in a lush Brazillian Ipe wood. Battleship gray Hardie board defines the deck’s perimeter, while corrugated steel cladding bolsters the platform’s entry area.

“You never have to worry too much about lighting up here,” Emanuel explains in describing how neighboring buildings tend to cast their ambient glow over any late-night soiree in this coziest of al fresco entertaining areas.

“This is a simpler way to live,” Emanuel explains. “I’ve seen so much change down here, but the basics remain the same. Living here means that I am within walking distance of so many of the great things the city has to offer; the arts and cultural venues, the Old Market restaurants, the parks, and now the riverfront.”

Dan Emanuel has a commute of a mere 43 steps down a staircase to his office. Taking one more step out the front door places him squarely on the threshold of the Old Market and all of its energy, excitement, and urban-living amenities.

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