A lot has changed since the year the Kiesel Building, located on 24th Street in downtown Ogden, was first constructed. Back then a first-class stamp cost 2 cents, Charlie Chaplin had just starred in his second big picture, and Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand took an ill-fated trip to Sarajevo which would eventually start World War I.
The building has been part of Ogden’s history for more than a century now, hosting everyone from bankers to squatters to news reporters.
Now, thanks to the efforts of entrepreneur Stacie Larsen, the historic charm of the Kiesel Building will also be available to brides, graduates, photographers and anyone else who is interested.
“Here in Ogden I’ve never seen another space like this, so for me to design and have it almost feels surreal at times,” Larsen said. “And when people walk in it’s crazy to hear them talk about it and how excited they are and everything. So it makes me really proud, obviously.”
Opening in March of this year, The Fifth Floor is a combination wedding venue, event hall, and photography studio. It’s a perfect blend of the old and the new. Rustic brick walls stretch out, interspersed with stylish window moldings painted clean white. Support pillars, encased in white paneling, rise from wooden floors to expansive ceilings. Cheerful windows illuminate the room with natural light while offering views of Ogden’s downtown.
“I like the clean, modern look, but I really wanted to keep as much of the building as we could kind of raw,” Larsen said.
And she’s accomplished just that. The Fifth Floor is a pleasing combination of historic charm and clean, modern chic.
It’s been a long process for Larsen, however. Empty for years, the building had fallen into varying levels of disrepair. Her experiences with the Kiesel Building are educational for other business owners looking to move into an older building.
She had originally looked at the building years before, but the timing hadn’t been right. About a year ago it seemed right. Renovations began.
Electrical systems, plumbing, tearing down walls (the area had previously been used as office space), updating the fire system — it was no easy task. Add to this problems with codes, permits, and other logistical issues and you get a feel for the difficulties involved.
Finally, after nine months, the space was ready to go. The Fifth Floor held its opening event, a wedding, back in March.
When asked what advice she had for other business owners looking to renovate an older building, Larsen laughed.
“Be patient,” she said. “It definitely takes a lot longer than you think it’s going to.”
So, has it all been worth it?
“One hundred percent,” Larsen nodded. “It’s all about location and really finding a place that speaks to you and gives you that feeling when you walk in. If it’s wowing me, who else is it going to wow? The biggest thing is not to settle.”
“When it was finally done it took a lot to feel like it was real. As things progressed, now it’s home to me. I’m here all the time, and it really feels like home.”
As an artist and aesthete, Larsen has always been attracted to older buildings. Her previous studio was a smaller but similar renovation of Ogden’s old post office building.
“Historic buildings are timeless. You can see the difference between an 80’s building or a 90’s and they don’t really have that same charm. There’s nothing about them that’s drawing you to them,” she said.
“I think with historic buildings with brick and windows and light, those are things that are appealing to everyone all the time.”
And Larsen isn’t alone in that sentiment. The Fifth Floor has already been a success, with bookings extending out over the next year. Many of her clients seem to have the same appreciation for older buildings that she does.
“I think that for everyone, too, they want something that’s memorable and has character and historic buildings really have that,” she said.
“I think Ogden’s really lucky to still have some of those, because a lot of other cities have torn them down.”
Charlie Chaplin would probably feel the same way.