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Five years ago, Jim Shemwell was living in a 995-square-foot house in University City that he’d occupied for 10 years with no real intention of moving. One night, out of curiosity, he was perusing some local real estate websites on his iPad and stumbled on a couple of interesting listings. One was a modern residential remodel inside a formerly commercial space — the old South Side Consumers Dairy in Benton Park.

He forwarded the listings to a friend and co-worker and suggested they go take a look over lunch. After climbing a ledge to peer through the windows of the vacant former dairy, his friend just looked at him and said, “You’ve gotta buy it!”

“I called my real estate agent from the car, and found out that it was already under contract,” Jim says. “But we wrote a contract on it anyway, and I ended up closing on it 45 days later.”

Fortunately for Jim, he had little to do but move in. Originally constructed in 1904, the former dairy storefront and warehouse had been painstakingly rehabbed by Millennium Restoration in 2006, winning a Homer Award. The historic storefront tile was hidden under siding but was completely salvageable and restored.

Though the residence’s interior is open and modern, it retains touches of the historic dairy, such as a long hallway wall of white glazed brick and the exposed rough stone walls of the finished basement. A heavy, old metal door in the basement, now walled off, once led to the original farmhouse that still sits next door.

A striking, three-story open staircase with beautiful iron railings is the centerpiece of the home, which Jim has decorated with mostly local art and comfortable, masculine furnishings. With a nod to the building’s origins, Jim has collected a number of art pieces of cows that are placed strategically throughout the house.

A bachelor with an active social life, Jim loves to entertain, and the converted commercial space is ideal for parties, which he hosts often. He had the entire house wired for sound, so music is always playing. A large, industrial dining table from I.O. Metro begs for dinner guests, and a cozy outdoor courtyard patio between the house and the garage is ideal for sipping wine with friends on warm summer nights.

Jim’s favorite thing, though, is the neighborhood. “It’s so easy to just grab dinner or a drink nearby. I can walk or bike,” he says. He even has a golf cart in case a friend wants to ride along.

Age • 40

Occupation • Jim works in IT for Sirius Computer Solutions

Home • Benton Park

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