Exploring the residential potential of Ironton’s upper floors

Published 5:55 am Tuesday, April 19, 2022

I have called Ironton home all my life.
In those years, I had never visited the upper floors of the downtown structures.
A couple of years ago, it was my pleasure to visit those upper floors, most of them older than myself by 30 years or more.
I had always wondered what was at the top of those many stairs and behind the many mysterious windows, but I had no reason to find out. Not until now.
Walking through the spaces and finding old fireplaces, I could imagine families celebrating Christmas and other happy events.
The overhead lights that possibly was the only lighting in the room and still there were light bulbs in many of them.
This was easy living in some ways and hard living in others. Some apartments are small, some not so small. Day after day, climbing stairs.
I climbed these same battered stairs in building after building, adding more pictures in my research — pictures not only in my camera but in my mind, some will be there forever.
The findings were eye opening.
I found bathtubs, not full of water and young children splashing, but old tubs full of material that once was covering the wall and ceiling.
I found outdated kitchens and very small closets.
At the start of the search, I was guessing I would find at least 50 apartments or spaces where apartments might someday be. I found more than three times that many and still counting.
In many cities, some the size of Ironton and some much larger, developers are renovating such spaces and folks are moving back.
Could this happen in Ironton?
What a wonderful thing that would be to have people walking the down town sidewalks again, sidewalks that would take them home.
My goodness, they would need retail business to shop at to buy food, clothing, services, drug items, restaurants and who knows we might need to bring retail business back to the down town.
Isn’t that interesting?
What an idea!

Sam Heighton is the executive director of Ironton aLive.

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