Reborn at 170 years old

New owners polish an old gem – The Bressmer House, 913 S. Sixth

click to enlarge Reborn at 170 years old
PHOTO COURTESY THE BRESSMER
First floor living room

Just about 30 years after settler John Kelly built the first cabin in Springfield in 1820 at what is now Second and Jefferson streets, Virginian Hiram Walker purchased land for $210 from city founder Elijah Iles a few blocks south and east. There he built a two-story, gable-roofed, provincial Federal-style brick home and carriage house. 

By 2003, when the Historic Sites Commission published Fever River Research's survey of Old Aristocracy Hill (a comprehensive and fascinating account of the neighborhood from Springfield's earliest days, complete with first-person accounts and archival photos), the home had been transformed into the stately Queen Anne-style Bressmer/Baker mansion of today, and it was one of the few properties rated as "excellent" for its historic integrity – thanks to its owner, the late Springfield attorney Doug Brown, who died in 1998 at age 64. Brown's work on the property included a careful, thoughtful renovation of the interior for office use.

In Novermber of 2021, business partners James Lucas and Ben Bledsoe purchased what had become a stately Queen Anne-style mansion at 913 South Sixth Street, christened it "The Bressmer," and six months later opened it for business as furnished luxury apartments.

House and business are doing fine.

click to enlarge Reborn at 170 years old
PHOTO COURTESY THE BRESSMER
The 5,500-square-foot Bressmer House, 913 S. Sixth St., today closely resembles its appearance in the 1889-1900 era.

National Register of Historic Places, 1982

Charles Kirchner's successful nomination of the home to the NRHP details major expansion, extension and remodel in 1855 in a more Italianate style by prominent local merchant John Bressmer; and work done by architect Charles Wesley Shinn for businessman William B. Baker in 1889 that added the Queen Anne features we see today. 

According to the nomination form, "The Bressmer/Baker House, as it exists today, closely resembles its appearance in the 1889-1900 era, with several exceptions. This was the era in which the house was remodeled in the Queen Anne Style ... including a domed turret, overhangs, use of varying materials, elaborate wooden trim, half-timber and stucco, clustered brick chimneys, leaded and stained glass ... The house contains approximately 5,500 square feet of space."

Today, visitors experience an opulent Victorian mansion that has been home to many prominent Springfield business owners and their families since Springfield's earliest years, a structure that has been redesigned by leading area architects, and a commercial property that once served as offices and now welcomes guests for luxurious overnights and extended stays. 

Lucas and Bledsoe are proud of their new property. They call it The Bressmer.

click to enlarge Reborn at 170 years old
PHOTO COURTESY THE BRESSMER
Third floor master bedroom

Arrive and Thrive, hospitality in luxury lodging

Business owners Lucas and Bledsoe met in a real estate investment group. Sensing their goals and styles might align nicely, they bought a property together. "We saw each other taking action week after week and wanted to find a way to work together," Lucas says. They now own properties in California where Lucas is based, Tennessee where Bledsoe is based, and Springfield, where family and Lucas' fiancé call home. 

They wanted to create short-term rentals in small, boutique hotels that are more than B&Bs, he says. Their passion is in the details. Carefully chosen decor, subtle themes, and fully furnished apartments with kitchens suit a wide variety of visitors. "It's really about hospitality," says Lucas.

click to enlarge Reborn at 170 years old
PHOTO COURTESY THE BRESSMER
The Lincoln Office, third floor

That makes The Bressmer ideal. The building is a historic property. The historic town itself attracts tourists, politicians and people in the medical community. And the pair believes Springfield has a lot of growth potential. 

The types of visitors to The Bressmer, says Bledsoe, "run the gamut across multiple industries." Couples may rent one room and stay for one or two nights, legislators and travel nurses may rent for longer stays. Larger groups, family reunions or wedding parties all wanting a place where they can all live in one space may stay for a week or a weekend. It varies, so check dates as far ahead as possible, but don't assume they'll be booked, he says. Visit the website, or come visit for a preview. "We love showing people the house and are always as accommodating as possible." 

"We see a lot of opportunity in Springfield, especially in the regeneration of the downtown," Lucas says. "We're excited to be a part of the community. And we want to partner with other places in town. Everyone wins when everyone wins." 

 

For more information, visit www.thebressmer.com.

DiAnne Crown

DiAnne Crown is a longtime freelance writer based in Springfield and former editor of Springfield Parent Magazine.

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