Funk in the City

Expect the unexpected in this Main Street condo

From the streets of Downtown Evansville, the second floor of the former Stratman’s Pharmacy in the 400 block of Main Street looks unassuming. However, the sight of a colorful fish sculpture in a corner window might make someone turn for a second glance. That fish – affectionately called Chloe – is the pride and joy of tenants Elizabeth “Lybbi” Clark and Rick Kueber and far from the only unique item in their L-shaped condo.

Guests are greeted by a giant, colorful turtle carved out of fire- proof foam. A taxidermy mountain lion guards the living room sofa. Kueber’s art studio features a bourbon barrel from a 2019 rick house collapse at the former O.Z. Tyler Distillery in Owensboro, Kentucky. Near the guest bathroom is a sarcophagus painted in black, purple, and shimmery gold. Despite the eccentricity of these items, they all work together to create a truly one-of-a-kind living space.

As lived in as their home looks, it’s a shock to learn the couple moved into the condo in January. Many apartments Downtown are not highly advertised, which required the couple to rely on word of mouth to learn about openings.

Kueber, an Evansville native and Central High School graduate, and Clark briefly lived in the McCurdy Apartments before look- ing at two other apartments in the Stratman building. When owner Nick Stratman showed them the corner unit on the second floor, they saw a perfect home for their collection.

“It’s an eclectic procurement of curiosities and imagination that delights the senses and challenges one’s preconceived notions of what interesting decor can do for your spirit,” says David Oldham-Heidenreich, owner of Elements Design Studio and a former resident of the same unit.

The couple signed the lease on New Year’s Day and were completely moved in within a month. They share the space with three cats, Remington, Dennis, and Gladdess. (Yes, that’s how her name is spelled.) Their love for felines is evident in the dozens of pieces and artworks displaying cats.

“This is the happiest, most comfortable place we’ve been,” Clark says. “We’re going to live and entertain here.”

The second floor of the 75-year-old building that was Stratman’s Pharmacy, which closed in 2011, mainly was used for businesses, and much of the original aspects still are there. In Clark’s and Kueber’s unit, brick is exposed, windows are frosted, ductwork crawls across the ceilings, and dark wood beams tower above the primary bedroom. The guest shower facing the kitchen and living room features frosted glass, a vivid remnant of 1980s style.

“All of our windows are different. No matter where you look, the view is spectacular,” Clark says.

While the space is spectacular on its own, Clark and Kueber have made it their own with eclectic, artsy decor. Clark, who works part-time in project retail management, says each item has a story, like Chloe, and most are from friends, bought for cheap, or passed down through generations of family.

“We’re always trying to find funky stuff,” she says. “Almost everything we have has
a story.”

The sarcophagus was found at Salvage Candy — the popular architectural salvage shop on South Weinbach Avenue — and a present for Kueber’s birthday. Opened, it reveals bookcase shelves that hold Kueber’s collection of supernatural, post-apocalyptic, and science fiction novels he’s written, including “The Frost and Flame Trilogy” — based on true events from the investigations of the Evansville Vanderburgh Paranormal Team he helped found in 2008 and which was disbanded in 2020 — and “The Convergence Saga.”

Another unique item is a relic from the old regional Sir Beef chain that closed around 20 years ago. On the doors of each restaurant hung a coat of arms — a defining char- acteristic. A fire destroyed the coat of arms that eventually came to the couple. Kueber, a multi-media artist whose work dots the land- scape of every room, was able to restore the piece to its original glory, and it now hangs in the couple’s living room near Chloe.

Atop their kitchen cabinets, a green street “Main St.” sign surveys a living space enlivened by colored glassware, a full bar, and a table with pink and purple-spotted fuzzy tablecloths.

Chloe is a six-foot-tall fiberglass sculpture that was originally part of a United Way fund- raiser in the early 2000s. Artists created these colorful sculptures each year – cars, butterflies, fish — and displayed them throughout Down- town. Then, after a month, bidders could take them home.

Chloe was an iteration of this fundraiser and ended up at Salvage Candy. When Clark and Kueber brought Chloe home, she was in disarray, dulled of color from being outside in the elements for so long. Kueber used the original color scheme to bring Chloe back to life through a combination of high-performance acrylic paint and several layers of clear coat. All surface prep, including sanding and scraping, was done by hand.

The couple enjoys staying at Indiana State Parks’ inns, several of which have arcades with claw games. Many of the rubber animals and plastic balls scattered around the condo are from such exploits.

Many items also are nostalgic, online bargain buys for the couple, including a Coca-Cola sign and a slot machine in Kueber’s studio. High on the couple’s prized list is a cabinet filled with uranium glassware, which glows green in the dark.

Clark and Kueber say one of the finest attributes of their new home is that it overlooks Evansville’s active Downtown.

“There used to be maybe five restaurants,” Clark says. “You just didn’t hang around Downtown. Nobody lived downtown, especially not on Main Street.”

Things have changed in the last 15 years; the area is bustling. Tenants are moving into residences atop shops and eateries, and Clark and Kueber offer nothing but praise for Downtown living.

“It doesn’t feel like Evansville, it feels more like a big city. Everyone knows each other. Everyone’s very connected. There is always someone walking. They will always smile and wave. It’s just fun to be here,” Clark says. “All the shopkeepers know who we are.”

The couple even plays a game they call “Fourth & Main Bingo.” Squares are reserved for everyday activities like drivers making a U-turn or forgetting to turn on their headlights, pedestrians jaywalking, or even someone driving a Jeep.

“Every type of person is down here. It’s very welcoming. The stuff we’ve found down here keeps us busy,” Clark says. “Downtown is a fun place to live.”

Although it’s home, the condo is a transitional space for Kueber and Clark as they are “easing into retirement.” Perhaps they will move to a home in the mountains, but until then they are having an adventure.

“Downtown has come full circle,” Clark says. “It’s just fun to be here.”

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Jodi Keen
Jodi Keen
Jodi Keen is the managing editor of Evansville Living and Evansville Business magazines.

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