Monday, July 14, 2014

The World of (Charitone) Interiors

An open house late Sunday afternoon for donors large and small to the Hotel Charitone restoration project  gave many an opportunity to tour four of the 12 apartments in the building as well as the entire Charitone Market Grille, which had closed at 2 p.m. The Lucas County Historical Society  is among the donors,  so I had a formal invitation in my pocket just in case it was needed (it wasn't).

Brave occupants of the four apartments --- one of each design in the building --- had been gracious enough to open their doors to tourists. Plenty of friends of the Charitone were on hand, too, to serve as guides and provide traffic control. It's always fun to explore and in this case to see how occupants have settled into their new homes.

The tenant of this east-end apartment, who had the advantage of a daughter who is an interior designer, decided that much of the furniture in public areas of her previous home was of the wrong scale for the new one --- so they went shopping. The result is an harmonious living room (top) with views of Braden Avenue to the south and Constitution Park to the east.

All of the rooms in the east apartments open into central foyers which provide excellent traffic flow --- and an additional area to decorate.

The guest bedroom in this apartment looks north and east. Each bedroom in all of the apartments also is equipped with generous storage space, in most cases very large walk-in closets.


A life transition convinced the tenant of this one-bedroom apartment --- each floor contains one one-bedroom and three two-bedroom apartments --- to move to the Charitone, and pare back a little.

These one-bedroom apartments have the largest public areas of all the apartments with kitchen and dining areas at the west ends and areas for socializing and relaxing at the east. The Hirschys and Steinbachs were getting ready to trade off guide duties when this photo was taken.

The bedroom, located down a hallway past bath and laundry, is generously proportioned --- and the closet is large, but the fact that there is only one closet in the apartment has provided a challenge, she said.


The occupant of this south facing two-bedroom apartment lives immediately above the Market Grille dining room and I was interested to know if she was aware of noise. "No," she said --- not at all. Sounds do rise into the second-floor hallway because of the open stair down to restaurant level, but do not intrude into the apartments.

She uses one her two bedrooms as an exercise room --- and I was also curious to know how often she went downstairs for a meal. About once a week for a sit-down meal, she said, but noted that a menu is kept handy and she frequently telephones orders down, then picks up something to eat in her apartment.


Linda and John Braida have one of three large west-end apartments, featuring the best views of the town square and courthouse. They sold their home adjacent to the Historical Society museum campus and moved into a two-bedroom unit at Southgate a few years ago, and now are enjoying larger quarters in the Charitone.

Linda is welcoming guests here into the couple's living room while John visits with all comers while standing in the kitchen.

The dining area is aligned with the long row of west-facing windows and hallway that leads to the master bedroom.

Just before reaching the master bedroom door, a multi-use area opens into the bath and laundry room, which in turn opens into the entrance hallway. A left turn takes visitors into a second bedroom, which John uses as a study. Obviously, the Braidas like red!


Heading downstairs, the original tile floor of the Charitone lobby is among the striking features of the waiting area just outside the Market Grille dining room doors.

Guests on Sunday were invited to sit down and enjoy refreshments in the dining room, which earlier in the day had been filled with Sunday brunch buffet guests.

To the right, cake and punch were being served from tables in the southwest corner of the bar, an area usually filled with patron seating, as is the remainder of the bar area.


The Lucas County Preservation Alliance, non-profit controlling partner in the Charitone project, continues to raise funds for it, hoping to end the restoration debt-free with an additional $200,000. To date, investors in the Charitone have included Hy-Vee, $1.6 million; Vredenburg Foundation, $500,000; individual donors, $300,000; Coons Foundation, $100,000; the State Historical Society of Iowa's Historical Resource Development Program, $50,000; and Lucas County Historical Society and the South Central Iowa Community Foundation, $25,000 each.

Prospective donors or anyone interested in other aspects of the project may contact the Alliance at P.O. Box 678, Chariton, IA 50049, or by telephone at (641) 774-2179.

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