Law firm renews historic look
Posted on 01/31/2022
A pedestrian walks past the new facade. (Photo by Liz Cezat) The owners of Salvatore Prescott Porter & Porter, which specializes in employment law, recently finished installing a new façade at 105 E. Main to brighten up the century-old building that serves as office space for the employment law firm and four tenants.

The contemporary façade contains four bay windows set over a low brick base and three glass doors with transom windows. All that glass provides an intriguing street-level view into the space that houses the law firm and Northville Nail Boutique on the first floor, and the offices of Amaze Travel; Steve Bonventre, CPA; and Psychologist Dr. Steve Huprich on the second floor.

From the inside, the wide expanse of glass reflects the vibrant downtown scene ofMain Street, which is currently closed to traffic as part of the social district. The wood framing has been painted blue with wide, classic trim in gray.

The second floor was mostly left intact with classic red brick and a raised brick border that frames three sets of double-hung windows. The energy-efficient replacement windows are attractively framed in brown and fit the space better than the older windows, which were trimmed in white with excess vinyl to fill the gap.

The building still sports a two-tone look but the nondescript siding and aluminum that partitioned the two stories has been replaced with thin-faced, dark gray brick since there was no exact match to the existing red brick. The different brick colors and composition depict the clear demarcation between old and new – a desirable aspect in historic renovations. The date of 2004 set in limestone at the top of the second story was replaced with the law firm logo. Another modern yet classic touch is the addition of gooseneck lighting at street level.

The redesigned exterior looks more like the retail and restaurant space that surround it. To the west is Northville Jewelers, to the east is home goods shop Pear-aphernalia, the tony new restaurant Toria, and the home and garden purveyor Gardenviews. Gone are the awnings on the first floor, which are a common decorative and functional element seen on many buildings in downtown Northville.

“We have been loving the additional light (without the awnings),” said Sarah Prescott, who co-owns the space with law firm partner Jennifer Salvatore.

The transformation began soon after Prescott and Salvatore purchased the building in 2021 from the out-of-state owner. They had been tenants since 2016. “The building had needed some love for a while,” Prescott said. “We were excited to own the building. We tried to hit the ground running.”

The owners studied photos of the building from the early 1900s as well as in the 1950s and ‘70s, when it was altered. “We wanted it to be more modern and maintain the character of Main Street – something that would be pleasing to fit in with buildings around it. We wanted to make it more of a small town feel.”

Prescott appeared before the Historic District Commission on Feb. 17, 2021 along with the builder, Robert Miller, M Architects, for conceptual review of the commercial façade. The commissioners were shown a 1919 photo, which depicted a three-story building. In the 1950s the building was reduced to two stories, and the brick and wood detailing was covered by a variety of materials, including panels made of metal and later, aluminum. Also, at some point, the brickwork on the building was changed.

Plan A was to uncover and clean the brick on the upper front behind the metal panels. But partial demolition revealed that no such brickwork existed and it lacked structural support leading up to the second story brick. Because of these limitations, the builder’s Plan B was to use thin brick on the upper level, restore the woodwork and add decorative molding, and build a brick base at the street level.

The owners received HDC approval to remove and replace the façade at the April 21, 2021 meeting as well as approval for signage. Prescott was pleased with the HDC review of the project, noting, “They were lovely – very easy to work with. It couldn’t have gone better.

“We wanted to have a building that we are happy to own and for the community. When we bought it, this building did not contribute in a way that we wanted it to. It needed to be cleaned up for all of us,” Prescott said.

The project was self-funded. There are no residential units inside, the only interior change made was to renovate a bathroom. In previous years, the law firm renovated the interior.

Both owners are actively involved in the community. Salvatore serves on the Chamber of Commerce board while Prescott is an ex officio member of the DDA and serves on the board of Northville Public Schools.

two women in front of office building.

PhotoLaw firm co-owners Jennifer Salvatore (left) and Sarah Prescott stand outside their office on Main Street. Photo by Liz Cezat.