Downtown architectural firm has rich history and an old-timey feel.

144 E. State St. has been part of David Meleca’s life for a long time—roughly 15 years. When he first glanced at the place, he saw a cute building, but with broken tiles and lay-in ceilings hiding its true expanse. As he looked up at the ceiling, he thought, “‘Man, this is probably something nice.’ ”

Fast forward five years and the building was for sale, but Meleca, an architect with his own firm, wasn’t in a position to buy it. In five more years—2006—it was again for sale and he took his chance.

“When I was looking (for buildings) Downtown I was looking for something small enough that I could afford. This thing was perfect,” he says.

Once Meleca had moved in to the building constructed in the early 1900s, he kept learning more about who had occupied the building in its lifetime. For instance, Meleca says it was built by Rutherford B. Hayes’ son Rutherford Platt. The Platts owned the house until the 1960s, he says. Among other tenants—a dance instructor with a studio in the back who died inside the building and an eye doctor whose family members visited to see the space he once occupied.

After Meleca moved in, the lay-in ceilings were immediately removed and so was the plaster ceiling underneath that. What remains is a vaulted ceiling in the drafting room with exposed metal trusses and brick unburdened by the plaster covering it. An installed skylight makes the room bright.

The space’s aesthetic is Meleca’s aesthetic.

“I figured we’re spending a lot of time here so it better feel good,” he says. And he does spend a lot of time there—all the Melecas do, since they moved upstairs five years ago.

“That’s been the best part (about this building), which I never anticipated because I dreaded the idea of working below the place I live,” he says. “What I find is there is a good separation, and, if anything, it’s a better blend of home and work—especially when the kids come home from school and the first thing they do is run in and see me.”

The door separating the home from the office was salvaged from Ohio State University’s old architectural school, which Meleca attended. The doorplate is an old one from the Ohio Statehouse. In addition to living space and a rooftop patio upstairs, David’s wife, Angela Meleca, has an art gallery on the other side of the main floor. It’s very clean and white—the “light side” to David’s “dark side,” he says.

The décor in the architectural firm has a rich and comfortable feel. Molding around the brick is painted dark red or black, and thick leather furniture is situated around a wood-burning fireplace from the original build. An Oriental rug covers shiny dark wood floors. Many design details are reminiscent of the era in which the building was constructed.

“Some of it is stuff we moved out of the house we were in and some of it we just buy online ad hoc. The stuff, say, in my office is just a collection of stuff I like,” Meleca says.

His office is his favorite part of the space he has created.

“I love my office. I just like hanging out in there. It’s not a burden to come down here on a weekend in my shorts and just work.”