The Home of Jim and Frances Hurst ~ It’s Christmas In There!


Ladies and gentlemen, prepare yourselves for a grand tour of an awesome home. I know I say ‘awesome’ a lot but there is no better word to use when describing this place. Jim and Frances Hurst have a home that will make you feel like you have just stepped into the pages of Architectural Digest, The New Yorker, or in the tube with HGTV. It is jaw-dropping beautiful. And it has more than one story…

Christmas Day 2013 will mark the one year anniversary that a tornado scraped it’s way through an Alexandria, Louisiana downtown neighborhood and left a sorry sight in it’s wake. Jim and Frances’ home was hit full on but thankfully, the damage didn’t constitute a total loss. Man, talk about angels watching over them! Before I tell you the story, let me share what Frances told me about their home.

First, it was built sometime in the 1930s and was a commercial property before the Hursts acquired it. Lucky for us they did. The building was nearly sold to a person who wanted to razz the place. That would have been a real shame, especially considering how it has been sculpted into the stylish loft that it is now. Another grand piece of history would have been lost and they don’t build ’em like they used to, ya know.

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Jim and Frances are a couple with incredible talent for restoration, imagination, and repurposing. What others saw as just another old building, they saw as their next big project. They have been there for six or seven years and haven’t run out of project ideas yet. Of course, the 2012 tornado dropped a kink into some of their plans but it didn’t stop them. It just kind of sidetracked them for a good 10 months. Aside from that, this project has clearly been a labor of love. The love shows. It permeates every room and hangs in the atmosphere like a pleasant, heart-warming ribbon of light. The Hursts live on the top floor of the building, thus ‘the loft’. That, my friends, would be a serious 5700 heated square feet of loft. It is a splendid area with an industrial vibe to it softened by the presence of antique and vintage pieces of re-purposed furniture and modern fixtures sharing space with pieces of sentimental value.

When I was given a tour of the loft I felt like I had died and gone to heaven. In fact, I recall from the first moment I stepped off the elevator – yes, elevator – I prayed to God … Please, please, please make my heavenly mansion like this place!

Ok, back to the tornado. Thankfully the structural damage was mostly limited to the roof at the south end of the building. Unfortunately, as is the way with bad weather, rain and wind followed causing the majority of the damage rendered. It must have been a huge mess. The pics below, courtesy of Jim Hurst, were taken after the tornado hit.

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Putting the pieces back together had to have been an enormous task, but the couple managed to do it with flair. Being the artist that he is, Jim is the man behind the iron. Fence, that is. He created the iron fence that surrounds the outside areas of their home. It’s not just a security/privacy fence. It is a work of art he shares with the community.

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In addition to the fence, his talent is shared throughout the home in the form of furniture he has built, his art, and even the door and cabinet handles.

Jim and his son built this table for Frances one year.

Jim and his son built this table for Frances one year.

handmade handles

handmade handles

Now, friends, sit back and enjoy the rest of the pics of this fab house.

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This Christmas tree is in the master bedroom. Can you imagine waking up to that every morning? The next picture is taken from the opposing end of the building – the opposite side of the same window. Didn’t I tell you this place is awesome?

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This vignette greets you as you step out of the elevator. This would be Harry’s greeting. Harry is their enormous Portuguese Water Dog.
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OMG, the kitchen! Vibrant lime green plus industrial flair tempered with work from local artists (Bridie Rollins, Maria Manemann, and, of course, whimsical Jim) and an old drafting table turned into a kitchen island!

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This is a view of the kitchen from across the room. Next, the centerpiece of the generous sized table and chairs. Jim built the table and Frances, talented seamstress that she is, upholstered the chairs. And look what she did to Christmas up her chandelier!
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Frances is an avid pianist and this great room is big enough for not one, but TWO huge pianos! I just wonder how the hell they got both of them upstairs! *ahem, pardon my French.

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Please note that this piano, built in the 1800s, is the same type piano that Beethoven used!
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Do you recognize the table with the vessel sinks on top? It’s an old chemistry table, thank you very much. Frances said it still has the holes the gas pipe fit through in chemistry class. And seriously, did you see that gianormous walk-in shower? Now you know why I asked God to make my mansion in heaven just like this. I’m pretty sure the master bath is about as big as my living/dining rooms together.

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Here we have a few sentimental pieces. A cabinet that belonged to Frances’ mother, a dresser repurposed into the perfect chest, a barber chair for Santa, the sink/vanity for the guest bathroom, a massive Cyprus stump that has been with Jim since college, and oh yeah, a bench Jim made out of an abandoned wheel chair.

There is so much talent put into this old building! I have to show you my very favorite thing. Well, my favorite thing besides the corrugated tin ceilings throughout. You know those structural iron I beams characteristic of loft buildings? Yeah, the ones that hold the roof up. Did you notice those in the living area? Look again. Jim clad them with wood molding and the end pieces of some very old fluorescent lights that came with the building. They look like old street lamps to me. My eyes watered and I think I salivated when I saw them. Sorry about the visual, but I have to tell it like it is. My friends, this is ingenious and stunning. Visionary, in fact. Who thinks like that? Um, the Hursts do, that’s who.

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I have only shown you the top floor home of this wonderful couple. There’s more…. Maybe another time.

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I would dearly love it if you would leave a comment on my page!

It’s Christmas, people. Do something nice for someone. Anyone. And don’t forget to pray for peace. Amen.

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