An innovative, creative artist-turned-businesswoman
survives all odds to see her dream become a reality.

     Built in 1893, the historic Weille Building, in downtown Paducah, begged for restoration or, more appropriately, demolition. Years of neglect left gaping holes in the roof and walls. Accumulated debris from former owners littered each floor. A roost of pigeons had taken over the third floor.
      "The site was an overwhelming mess," Sarah Roush admitted. "There was no electricity or water, floors were out, the elevators didn't work, the roof leaked.”
      Contractors and other professionals proclaimed the building unsalvageable. "Everyone looked at the place and said, 'no way' adding it would cost over a half million dollars to renovate," Sarah recalled. "I was turned down by the local Mainstreet association for a construction loan and went head-to-head with the city architect over a colorful paint scheme for the building's facade.”
      To buy the building and finance the project on her own, Sarah borrowed against her life insurance policy and took a second mortgage on her home. "There were days I had buyer's remorse,” she confessed, “often feeling overwhelmed and powerless. Sometimes I was so depressed I would just roam around from floor to floor taking photos.”

     It was during this time Sarah was diagnosed with breast cancer. After surgery, she remembers laying in the hospital bed feeling doomed. Like the Weille building, she seemed to be crumbling. Once back on her feet, however, she continued to work tirelessly.
      Eighty-four dump truck loads of waste and an archaic boiler were removed. A crane was needed to extract several useless nine-hundred-pound air conditioning units. The third floor, finally cleared of feathered creatures, was converted into a makeshift studio for Sarah.
      The work did not stop with indoor renovation. Sarah wanted to create a unique patchwork of tiles on the building front outdoors, similar to a design she had used on her buildings on South Second Street.
      With the help of Pat Powell, Vice President of Marketing and Sales for Old Hickory Clay Company in Hickory, Kentucky, and Old Hickory’s ceramic engineers, the clay formula and glaze recipe were adjusted to better withstand the rigors of rapidly changing weather conditions in Western Kentucky. The distinctive result makes the Weille a landmark in downtown Paducah.


     The Weille project – encompassing 14,000 square feet -- took two years. With care and attention, it should last another hundred years, thanks to Sarah Roush. The artist-turned-businesswoman tackled the seemingly impossible. With vision, determination and perseverance, she made her dream a reality.

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Sarah Roush
409 Broadway
Paducah, KY 42001

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