Original conceptual hand drawing of the Clay & Cotton building by Mike Watkins, Town Architect, 2011
This story starts six years ago when Dayna Tomes walked into Clay & Cotton on Bardstown Road in the Highlands and told me about this thing called Norton Commons... She thought Clay & Cotton would be a good fit for the Norton Commons community, with its colorful, design-oriented products. She showed me plans and invited me to see the land and the beginning of the home building....
I immediately loved the idea, but I had just signed a lease at a local mall a mile away from Norton Commons, and I had a wonderful old house on Bonnycastle (designed by Joseph & Joseph about 100 years ago), two busy boys aged 12 and 14, three dogs... and I lived a mile away from the Bardstown Road Clay & Cotton (which will stay open!). I was living the real thing in the Highlands, walking or riding my bike to work when I could, stopping for groceries and wine on the way home, walking to restaurants, bringing a dog or cat to work on occasion. WHY would I leave the Highlands, when I already was living the kind of life that Norton Commons purported to be?
Fast-forward six years. The youngest boy will be going to college next fall, and I will be an empty-nester with a couple of dogs left. The lease at the mall is up, and as I decided whether to renew the lease, move the shop, or simply close, I realized that I could consolidate a lot of the complication in my life and BUILD a shop and LIVE up above it at Norton Commons. Financially, it made a lot of sense to own the building, eliminate my mortgage and the rent I was paying at the mall and put it all into one building. It was the quintessential hundred-year-old idea of the shop owner living above the shop, and I loved it!
Norton Commons has been a magnetic force that kept calling to me ever since Dayna walked into the shop. I went to the 2011 Homearama and absolutely loved the balanced, timeless architecture and the character Norton Commons was developing. Clay & Cotton and I HAD to be a part of it. Two weeks later, I bought the two lots that anchor that Homearama and put my dear old house up for sale.
Long story short: the house on Bonnycastle finally sold, the financing was approved to build the building at Norton Commons, all my possessions are in storage, and the dogs, one boy, a cat, and I are living with a very accommodating friend. We will break ground in the next month!
Over the last year, as I worked on selling my house and purchasing the lots to build at Norton Commons, I have visited Norton Commons many times to work and play. I have many friends there, old and new, and some that I didn’t even realize live in Norton Commons. The energy and authenticity of Norton Commons is every bit as true as the Highlands, not in a way that tries to replicate, but in its own cheery and diverse way, and it continues to draw me like a magnet. I even have a couple of favorite restaurants and an Australian massage therapist there! The growth in Norton Commons is truly remarkable, and I welcome the opportunity to open Clay & Cotton at Norton Commons and live above my shop.