Fields completes remodel of downtown building
Project takes on historical focus
When Cassville Attorney Blake Fields moved from his office next to the late Senator and Attorney Emory Melton to his new location at 605 Main St., he planned to do a little remodeling, but had no idea the scope, nor the significance, the project would take.
“Emory told me I could stay and use that building, but the Advertiser needed more space so it made more sense to move,” he said.
Fields’ new building was the late Attorney Tom Cardin’s office and part of Chiropractor Kristy Montz’s office space.
“Tom had opened a wall between the two offices and made a passage through the two,” said Fields, who was just planning to fix a broken truss, then remodel and move into Cardin’s
office, hiring Johnnie Hilery and T.J. Daniels to do the construction. “We had to rebuild a truss, then found out others were rotten. It became an insane amount of work. We had to lift the ceiling, then rebuild the trusses, so it would sit at the correct height.”
When the ceiling came down, the plaster and woodwork came with it, impacting the entire building.
So Fields and his father, Gary, who helped with the construction, signed up for more than they planned for. But, as the project unfolded, it took on more meaning than anyone could have ever expected.
Fields consulted with his mother, Gayle, for the decor.
“One of the ideas behind the decor was to give a sense of the town’s history — to look like you could have walked back into that time when the building was built,” Gayle Fields said.
Another piece of the décor was the feeling.
“The first thing I asked Blake was, ‘How do you want people to feel when they come in your office?’” Fields said. “When you think about how people are feeling when they walk into an attorney’s office, they’re stressed, worried, or intimidated. He didn’t want people to feel like that. He said, ‘I want them to feel comfortable, secure and at home.’
“So, the office is designed so that you can walk in, grab a cup of coffee, sit in front of the fireplace, pick up the town paper and feel relaxed.”
Blake Fields also wanted the space to look timeless.
His great-grandparents were “Ma and Pa” Fields, who started Fields Photos and took thousands of pictures in the area, and his grandfather was Max Fields.
“I suggested putting up old pictures of Cassville,” Gayle Fields said. “The building gives a nod to the past and shows the pride people have in their town.”
“My dad, mom and I flipped through tons of photo archives looking for pictures that had historical significance and that people would recognize,” Blake Fields said.
Part of the homey and timeless decor is the use of muted grays, soft whites, walnut-stained floors, a living-room-like setting, cathedral ceilings and the historic photos.
“The colors are soothing and neutral, and the idea was to keep that sense of calm and not take away from the pictures and memorials we want people to focus on,” said Gayle, who credits Hilery and Daniels for helping her materialize her vision. “They brought exactly what I saw in my head and that vision to life.”
The interior also pays homage to Melton and Cardin, with memorabilia from their practices on display at the reception counter.
Emory’s service bell is one of Fields’ favorites. Also displayed are tables made of walnut trees from Melton’s parents’ farm, and original law books from both attorneys dating back to the early 1800s.
“I want to honor both men, and it was a great honor to work with Emory,” he said. “Emory is exemplary of the best of Cassville. If there was an avatar of Cassville, or even of small town Missouri, he would be it. He was a guy who had common sense solutions to problems, and was a man who tried to fix things instead of making them worse. If I were to achieve even a sliver of what he accomplished in his life, I would consider myself immensely successful.”
Fields is now custodian of Melton’s and Cardin’s records.
“Emory was so wonderful to Blake,” Gayle Fields said. “And, the history of the building is Tom’s office. That’s why he wants to pay homage to these men — to give back and to say, remember these great men.”
Fields also has a wifi-equipped conference room available to the community to rent for presentations, designed to promote a sense of calm.
Fields is married to Kelsey Fields, who will be teaching fifth grade at Purdy, and has two boys, Max, 3, and Mick, 1. His areas of practice include D.U.I., family law, criminal law, personal injury, estate planning and probate.
With the Cassville Main Street Association urging downtown businesses to update their storefronts, in conjunction with their DREAM initiative, association representatives say he has set the bar high.
“He made some modifications, but followed the DREAM outline in the remodeling of his building,” said Carolyn Bishop, association president.
“We drew on that design,” Fields said. “We were trying to create a building that would match the downtown feel.”
To celebrate the completion of his building, Fields will host an Open House event on Aug. 21, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., which is open to the community.
“A lot have been very curious to see what we’ve done,” he said. “People were appreciative and supportive [following our progress on social media] that someone was wanting to improve the downtown area.”
Now, he is ready to blend the past with the present and get to work.
“It was long and stressful at times, but now that I’m looking at it, it was entirely worth it,” he said. “The reason I wanted to do this was because this is an amazing home base for me to set up my career and raise my family. I intend to be here for a long time.”
“We rescued the building,” Gary Fields said. “It was in worse shape than I thought, and we fixed it.”
Gayle Fields said she was very appreciative o the masonry work accomplished by Dane Crownhart and his crew. She said Crownhart was able to figure out her design ideas for the historical, old-time brick work, which was tricky with all of the intricate detail in the design,. She aid the family was pleased with the way it all worked out.