Walking into Dr. Percy Cook’s 1950s era office on South Main Street is like stepping back in time. The offices are lined with wood paneling. There’s blue carpet that resembles waves in the ocean. In back, they found an original patient’s examination chair, an avocado-colored couch and a 1964 Ford Thunderbird.
At one time there were multiple physicians wearing suits, nurses in white uniforms with hats, lab technicians, x-ray technicians and a receptionist working at the clinic, said Carol Cooper, Cook’s daughter and Mansfield resident.
"We would call it a mid-century building," Cooper said. "It had central heat and air. It was pretty roomy for those days."
While some might see the 3,500-square-foot duplex as a dusty relic, Jessica Rychlik’s mind raced with ideas the moment she walked inside.
Rychlik bought the building, located at 315 S. Main St., on July 28 and plans to take it down to the studs, raise the ceiling and replace many of the interior walls with modern-looking glass panels.
Half the building will be remodeled into a new office for her real estate company, Seven6 Realty, while the other half will be transformed into Main Space, Mansfield’s first co-working space.
Her goal is to open the real estate office and Main Space in mid-November.
"I found this building and put in a offer," Rychlik said. "It’s what I’ve always dreamed of so a downtown location real important to me."
Her total investment in the downtown building will be about $350,000.
She envisions large picture windows facing Main Street that advertises home listings.
She’ll have offices for herself and her five-person team, a break room and a front lobby.
It’s a dream come true for Rychlik, who was a top producer at Re/Max but wanted to venture out on her own. She handles commercial and residential real estate while also helping investors buy and flip houses.
Seven6 Realty will share a conference room with Main Space, the co-working office that will occupy the southern half of the duplex.
Main Space will have four private offices available for rent by entrepreneurs, freelancers and others who are seeking an alternative to working from home. They’ll also have common area space where members could find a spot to work for the day. Memberships will start at $200 a month.
Another highlight of Main Space will be the bar and dining room table where members can work, collaborate or take a break.
"Everybody that I’ve told about Main Space loves the idea. It went crazy on Facebook," Rychlik said. "People say we need this in Mansfield. The whole co-working incubator idea is real big in cities right now like Dallas and Fort Worth. It’s just now making its way into the suburbs.
This project is part of a larger revitalization effort in downtown Mansfield that stretches from the new Main Street Lofts at Newt Patterson Road south to The LOT Downtown project and beyond.
Mansfield has budgeted $2.5 million to $3 million to completely rebuild South Main Street from East Broad Street south to Hunt Street, said David Boski, assistant director of public works and transportation.
The finished road will still have four lanes but will also have on-street, back-in parking, wide sidewalks on both sides, park benches, planters and a shared bicycle lane, Boski said.
"It’s going to be designed as complete street," he said. "The goal is to slow traffic down and make it more pedestrian friendly. With the rebuild, hopefully, it will encourage redevelopment along there also."
Construction could start early next year and will take nine months to a year to complete. It will add 80 to 90 parking spaces along the street.
A rich history
Cook, who was a medic in the U.S. Army in World War II, first came to Mansfield in 1950 and built the duplex three years later. One half of the building was his medical practice and the other half was his family home.
The family moved out of the home in 1958 so Cooper doesn’t remember living there.
Several pharmacies, including today’s Ray’s Pharmacy, rented the southern half of the building, making it convenient for patients to get their prescriptions filled. Dentists also rented space in the building.
Cook would continue treating patients there until 1970, when he built a new office at 106 Cedar St. near the Cedars Hospital. That hospital later housed city offices before it was torn down and is now the site of the Mansfield Public Safety Building.
Cook was also instrumental in Mansfield’s economic development, made house calls in a helicopter and was always there for Mansfield’s volunteer firefighters. He chronicled his life in a book called Percy Lee Cook MD ….From the Cotton Field to a Country Doctor.
Cook retired in 1987 and died in 2012, just one day before his 70th wedding anniversary to his wife, Avena.
He was a sentimental man who held on to his original clinic for decades, got his mail there and kept an active phone line.
Now, the building will get new life.
"With Jessica keeping the building we are ecstatic," Cooper said. "We are so proud that she is going to do that. She is just the perfect buyer."