Home Tours: Explore a cigar-factory-turned apartment by the riverfront near Downtown Fort Wayne

When Jamie Curtis moved back to Fort Wayne in 2019, she knew she wanted to live near Downtown; she just didn’t know where. When a former cigar-factory-turned-apartment opened up on the Riverfront along Edgewater Avenue, she couldn’t resist jumping on it. Today, her historic home is inspired by her travels from Haiti to Mexico, Nicaragua, and the Dominican Republic, giving the space an eclectic, vintage, and bohemian vibe.
 

We took a tour with Curtis to learn more about her home.

Jamie Curtis in her apartment on Edgewater Ave. in the Lakeside Park neighborhood.

IFW: Tell us a little bit about yourself. How long have you lived in Fort Wayne, and where do you work?

JC: While I was not born in Fort Wayne, I was raised here. After my time at IPFW, I moved to California, then to Haiti, then to Florida, and then I moved back to Fort Wayne in the summer of 2019. I currently work as a diving coach with Indiana International School of Diving (IISD) and am the content specialist on the marketing team at Home Reserve, a local modular furniture brand, and I work from my home.

The living room features a variety of textures, artwork, gifts, and vintage items in the apartment of Jamie Curtis on Edgewater Ave. in the Lakeside Park neighborhood.

IFW: Tell us about your home?

JC: I live on Edgewater Ave. It’s a beautiful one-way street along the river near Downtown, and my apartment is inside a historic building. It used to be a cigar factory in its prime and was later converted into apartments (long ago enough that each apartment has a milk door in the hallway where the milkman would have dropped off milk). I moved in about two years ago in August.

The living room features a variety of textures, artwork, gifts, and vintage items in the apartment of Jamie Curtis on Edgewater Ave. in the Lakeside Park neighborhood.

IFW: What inspired you to choose this home, of all places?
 
JC: When I first moved back to Fort Wayne, I lived with my brother in his home, so I wouldn’t have to rush finding the right spot. I knew I wanted to live in or near Downtown when I met a new friend at work. Maddie and her husband own this apartment building and said if anything opened up, she’d let me know. About six months later, the tenant put in her 30-day notice, and I got the apartment! I was in love with the huge, old windows, the high ceilings, the archways, and the rest of the old charm. It gets the best natural lights and looks out into the beautifully kept yard.

The blanket ladder is one of her favorite items in the apartment of Jamie Curtis on Edgewater Ave. in the Lakeside Park neighborhood.

IFW: Tell us about your neighborhood and what you love about living there. 

JC: This apartment is nestled on a one-way street along the river. I often walk or bike along the Rivergreenway and head Downtown on my bike. My apartment is also a five-minute walk to an incredible view of the summer sunset. 

A table purchased from the Salvation Army fits well in the dining space in the apartment of Jamie Curtis.

IFW: Since the pandemic, when so many Americans are spending more time in their homes than usual, have you found yourself making design updates to your space?

JC: I am always rearranging my space and adding new pieces to the walls. Since I’m renting, I don’t make any big changes, but I love to thrift for vintage finds, and I’m constantly bringing new pieces into my home. It always takes a little rearranging to find the perfect spot for each piece! 

Second hand baskets decorate the dining area wall in the apartment of Jamie Curtis on Edgewater Ave.

IFW: Where do you find your design inspiration? 

JC: I’d say my greatest inspiration comes from living in Haiti, my island home—a place filled with life and color. I want my apartment to reflect that. I’m inspired by lots of color and textiles, as well as other places I’ve traveled (Mexico, Nicaragua, Dominican Republic). Anytime I come across another space similar to my style on Instagram, I’m sure to follow along for further inspo.

A closet off of the living room features windows and her favorite vintage pieces in the apartment of Jamie Curtis on Edgewater Ave.

IFW: Have you faced any design challenges, and if so, how did you overcome them?

JC: One design challenge has been the kitchen, as it’s such a small space. Slowly, but surely, I’ve been able to thrift some of the perfect pieces, including my vintage rattan honeymoon dining set. It’s the perfect fit for my small dining area. 

The bedroom features a lot of light as well as colors and textures to make the room pop in the apartment of Jamie Curtis on Edgewater Ave.

IFW: What is your favorite room/space in your home? 

JC: I love my main living area. It’s filled to the brim with all of my favorite pieces of art and textiles, vintage furniture, plants, and more. With two huge windows, it’s the room with the best natural lighting. It’s definitely the space I spend the most time!

The bedroom features a lot of light as well as colors and textures to make the room pop in the apartment of Jamie Curtis on Edgewater Ave.

IFW: What is your favorite piece of furniture or décor in your home? 

JC: My favorite piece of art is from Haiti. My friend and roommate in Haiti got it for my birthday while we were living there. It’s a colorful painting of women selling in the market. It’s irreplaceable.

One of her favorite walls is dubbed the gallery wall and is filled with photos from travels and friends in the apartment of Jamie Curtis on Edgewater Ave.

IFW: What advice do you have for others looking to update their space on a budget? 

JC: Hit the thrift stores! Most of my decor and furniture is either thrifted, gifted, or hand-me-downs. As you may know, thrifting is defiantly hit or miss. I’m a big fan of slowly making your space your own. (For example, I don’t even have a bed frame yet because I haven’t found the right one for the right price.)

One of my few non-secondhand items is my big green sectional from Home Reserve. It’s a Fort Wayne company that makes modular furniture. I’m not sure I would have ever known I needed this sectional if it wasn’t for working there! It is modular (can rearrange it or add to it), changeable (went from grey covers to green ones), and has storage under every seat which is a must for apartment living.

The bathroom pops with color and texture in the apartment of Jamie Curtis on Edgewater Ave. in the Lakeside Park neighborhood.

IFW: Last but not least, tell us what you love about Fort Wayne and why you are choosing to make your home here?

JC: If it wasn’t for my family, I probably wouldn’t live here, as I prefer to live in more tropical weather near the ocean. However, my parents, siblings, and nieces/nephews all live here now. After living away for six years, I wanted to be around family again for a change. I’m glad I made that change; it’s been a blessing.

Read more articles by Kara Hackett.

Kara Hackett is a Fort Wayne native fascinated by what's next for northeast Indiana how it relates to other up-and-coming places around the world. After working briefly in New York City and Indianapolis, she moved back to her hometown where she has discovered interesting people, projects, and innovations shaping the future of this place—and has been writing about them ever since. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @karahackett.