Wendy Kobler’s excitement about her new home isn’t hard to spot. She grins form ear-to-ear when showing off her second-floor apartment on West Main Street, and, starting with the wooden floors, makes copious use of the words “beautiful” and “gorgeous” to describe her new home in downtown Frankfort.
“This is downtown living, Kobler said. “Look at this original floor. They were able to utilize a lot of this original floor. Look at this. Isn’t it gorgeous?
“You can see how they started to piece it in. I’m not a carpenter, but this is beautiful.”
Kobler, who joined the administration of Kentucky State University in July as vice president of institutional advancement, is also enamored with the view from her balcony that overlooks the Kentucky River; the kitchen, which has concrete countertops and a large island; the open living room that connects to the kitchen; modern bathroom and just about everything else about the loft apartment.
She even enjoys that the exterior appearance of the building doesn’t reveal that new, loft apartments are located inside.
When a friend visited recently, Kobler recalled receiving a phone call in which the friend questioned if she had arrived at the right building.
“Wendy, I see an abandoned building, are you sure this is the right place?” Kobler recalled her friend saying.
After seeing the inside of the building and a trip to nearby Bourbon on Main, Kobler’s friend was ready to plan a return visit.
Most of all, Kobler says she enjoys that her apartment overlooks The Kentucky River.
“There’s a lot of traffic on the river, and I’m waving at people all the time,” she said. “Then, when I took a ride on the Kentucky State University boat and the view of this place is just amazing.”
Now the site of three apartments on the second floor and a renovated 5,000-foot first floor, the building was built sometime between 1894 and 1902 and served as a carriage shop. During its life, the building has also been home to The Vatter Motor Company, the Vatter Hotel, T-Boat Marina and a bicycle shop.
Three years after buying the property, owner Joe Berry and partners —brother Michael and Kevin McNally — rented out the first apartment unit to Kobler, who chose one of the two-bedroom options. A second two-bedroom unit, which has a larger balcony is also available as well as a one-bedroom unit.
But Kobler, who found the apartment by searching around online, said she likes her loft best. But it’s more than the interior. Kobler made a point to look for a place to live in downtown Frankfort because she’s particularly fond of downtown living and all the amenities that it offers — shops and restaurants within walking distance — and that she lives in a historic, meaningful part of downtown. Kobler likes being “in the middle of it all.”
“If it’s the right stage in your life, which it’s the right stage in my life, you should embrace downtown and support downtown,” Kobler said. “Downtowns are just vital to our community and people in our community are so welcoming. For me, it’s really all about the lifestyle, the ability to come home to an amazing place that is not a lot of upkeep.”
Watching the moon rise
The entrance to her apartment is at the top of a flight of 23 stairs (she counted). A long hallway branches off into the apartment’s two bedrooms and two bathrooms. At the end of the hallway is a large, open and well-lit space that combines the kitchen and living room. Even on a cloudy, September day, light from outside filtered through large windows and into her apartment.
Kobler says she’s fond of the kitchen, where she likes to keep a bouquet of fresh flowers, because she likes to cook and enjoys entertaining. Not sure if the fire marshal would interrupt, Kobler contemplated whether she could host a gathering of 50 people.
Two, cushioned chairs and a gas fire pit compliment her the balcony’s view of the Kentucky River. And, strung through the railing are lights that Kobler says she enjoys turning on while “watching the moon rise.”
Kobler, who calls Gulf Breeze, Florida, home came to KSU from Wittenberg University, in Springfield, Ohio, where she worked as vice president for advancement. A first-generation college graduate, she has a bachelor’s degree from the University of West Florida, a master’s degree from Alabama A&M University and is nearing completion on a Ph.D. from Indiana Institute of Technology. She’s lived in California, Virginia and as far north as Ohio but calls the South home.
Kobler jokes that she’s in the “empty nest” stage of her life. She has three children, all of whom are adults. Her youngest child, Drake, is a sophomore in college.
‘Change and transformation’
In part, she was attracted to the job at KSU because President Christopher Brown, whom she met roughly six years ago.
“It’s very special to have a leader who also wants to bring about massive change and transformation,” she said. “It’s not very often that you can work with someone like that or for someone like that. So, I’m very excited.”
She said working in higher education, particularly at Kentucky State University, is meaningful because of the ability to serve students.
“We have a lot of first-generation students there, students who don’t come from a lot of money and, to be able to help them with scholarships and really change their life for generations, you only get to do that through higher education,” Kobler said.
At KSU, her job duties include advancing the mission of the college by engaging alumni, corporations, foundations and the Frankfort community. In short, she’ll work to raise philanthropic support for the college. Kobler says she’ll also be focused on building a strong town-and-gown relationship — to make KSU a more prominent part of the community and enmesh the college with the non-academic parts of Frankfort.
In her loft apartment, she’ll be in the heart of the “town.”