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Natural Selection
Ad man Joe Locher turned a raw warehouse space into a one-of-a-kind office using a wild variety of unique materials.

Photos by Adam Ryan Morris

Rugged and raw, the space proved to be the ultimate decorating challenge. But today, Locher is the anchor tenant of the historic building. Built in 1875 by German immigrant John Pritzlaff, it was home to his hardware company, which grew into one of the largest in the Midwest. 



Boardroom to Bar
Three items in Locher’s office were too heavy for the building’s freight elevator, including this 1,500-pound, 14-foot solid teakwood table from Thailand. Seating 10, it’s fit for a king (or a pretty lavish dinner party). Sprawling across the back wall is a 12-foot-long photographic piece of art. A live oak from New Orleans’ City Park is pictured and split among specially designed steel-welded frames. “It acts as a window,” he says. Take a close look and you’ll spot small voodoo figures hanging from the branches.  

Also adding a dab of mystique, the Parisian absinthe bar holds various glass devices and the real stuff from the Czech Republic, what Locher deems the “true hallucinogenic.” While just to the side, the kitchen begins with an old appliance store sign, salvaged from the Fifth Ward. 

Bed & Bath
Locher resides in Cedarburg, but he always has a place to stay Downtown. This utilitarian, cozy bedroom is tucked away next to the entrance with nothing more than a bed, two end tables … and a cleverly downturned mirror. As for its angle? Locher swears he just doesn’t want guests to be greeted to the room with their reflections.  

Across the way and reclaimed from an East Coast mansion, a weathered 1920s Roman-style claw-foot tub clocks in at 75 inches and adds a rustic feeling to the bathroom area. It’s also positioned in front of a large metal fire door, which is original to the building.  

Pool Shark
Even the hardest workers need occasional breaks. Sitting atop the space’s floors made of solid teak planks with a Brazilian cherry border, this classic billiards table is often used for afternoon games with friends and clients.  

A glance through the pool cue selection lends whimsy and insight into Locher’s lingering rebellious attitude. 

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