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Magazine On-line [fall 2011]
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Studio in old Spalding's building
Local artist John Lackey rents the first floor of the building as an art studio

 Chad Needham renovates historic Spalding’s Bakery

Chad Needham
Chad Needham is the third owner of the 131-year-old building on North Limestone.

When Spalding’s Bakery moved from its North Limestone and Sixth Street location after more than 70 years, the building sat vacant for five years until Chad Needham ’94 saw a chance to move in on the historic property and contribute to the urban renewal taking place around downtown Lexington.

Needham, a developer, gutted the inside of the building, tearing out walls to reveal the original brick, restoring the doors and molding, and installing new floors, appliances, HVAC, and plumbing. He converted the first-floor bakery into a studio now leased by local artist John Lackey, and the second-floor apartments the Spalding family lived in became office space.

He became the third owner of the building, which was constructed in 1880 and operated as a meat market, saloon, and coal yard before being purchased by an upstart doughnut baker in 1934. Spalding’s quickly became one of Lexington’s most famous and beloved bakeries. Now Needham hopes to preserve the building’s history while reintegrating it into Lexington business.

Needham, who describes the renovation as “contemporary rustic,” said that when he was a student in the early ’90s living in the soccer players’ house on Constitution Street, the area around Transylvania wasn’t always well suited for college students. The surrounding lots that had pawn shops and a liquor store now house businesses like Doodle’s, Atomic Café, and Third Street Stuff.

“When I was a student, it was a little rough,” he said. “Boy, has that changed. And that was only 16 or 17 years ago. As a developer, I think of what the potential for the area will be in another 16 or 17 years.”

He said that while many of the buildings in the area have lots of need for restoration and renovation, the time is ripe for other developers to come in and capitalize on low prices and a good location to buy property on North Limestone. He thinks business will flourish and continue the renewal process of downtown Lexington.

“With a little effort and a group of people who want to see North Limestone get better, I think we’ll get there,” he said.

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