A former steakhouse and dance hall would seem to be an unlikely choice to house a senior living community.
Then again, the building had the square footage, infrastructure and landmark status among the residents of Harrodsburg, KY.
Carrying the name of local country superstar Eddie Montgomery (of duo Montgomery Gentry) also gives the building a certain prestige. Given that pedigree, Trilogy Health Services took a chance and developed The Willows at Harrodsburg, a 56,000-square-foot senior living center with 38 assisted living and 45 skilled nursing units.
The country vibe of Montgomery’s legacy still resonates in the design, as some of the “ski lodge” décor is apparent, such as exposed log beams, along with two Montgomery guitars that hung from the wall during the building’s era as a country nightspot.
The timber log theme “isn’t how we would have built it,” concedes Trilogy CEO Randall Bufford, but after consulting architect Jay Million about conversion and code compliance, he realized “it had the bones for a huge common area and a commercial grade restaurant in place, so we took a stab at it.”
Because it was involved with the 2008 construction of Eddie Montgomery’s Steakhouse, Million Architecture had the perspective necessary to evaluate the expansion and repurposing of the building.
“The goal was to use the existing steakhouse building for the support spaces of the nursing home and assisted living additions,” Million says.
“This area would keep the existing kitchen, but convert the stage, mezzanine, private dining and gift shop space to therapy rooms, offices, library, living and dining spaces for use by the residents.”
The greatest challenge to overcome was the conversion of the structure from 5B construction to a 5A construction classification, Million says.
“This meant that much of the interior side of the log structure would need to be clad with metal studs and fire-rated gypsum wallboard,” he says.
“An exception in the code allowed for much of the roof structure — including the log trusses — to remain exposed, because of the height of the dining room.”
The Willows at Harrodsburg has walls filled with windows that reach toward cathedral ceilings to let in ample natural light. The exposed beams, hardwood floors and stone fireplaces provide a country vibe that radiates warmth and comfort. Common areas are located throughout the building.
In another nod to the former restaurant’s legacy, an onsite microbrewery is planned as a “fun, life-enriching” part of the community, Bufford says. As of April, residents had not yet moved into the complex, but once they do, they will get the chance to name the home-brewed beer.
The Willows fills a major void in the Harrodsburg area, with prospective residents expected from the Extended Care Wing of James B. Haggin Memorial Hospital in Harrodsburg.
“The air has been buzzing with the sounds of zippers on suitcases — residents and staff members have been waiting for the day since 2016,” stated a Trilogy press release playfully announcing the project’s completion.