Merv and Deb Aubespin decided to move out of their two-story West End home, where they had entertained their friends for years, because it wasn’t convenient. They decided to move to a condo in the Highlands.
“We didn’t like our neighborhood anymore,” says Deb, a retired Jefferson County Public Schools middle school teacher. “I was dying of boredom. There were no restaurants, no nightclubs, no places to go.”
“There was just nothing there,” adds Merv, a retired associate editor for the Courier-Journal newspaper and artist.
“I had to go to the Highlands for everything or to the East End,” Deb says. “It was very sad. For me to be over in the Highlands all the time, or over in the East End where there are restaurants, and shopping, and places to get my hair done, and doctors and dentists, we needed to be over here.”
One weekend in 2003, when Merv was in New York, Deb went to an open house on Cherokee Road. “So, I went in and it had these incredibly high ceilings, and a lot of wall space, and I said, ‘Yes! This is what I want! When Merv got home on Monday, I made an appointment for him to come by, and that was it.” They put their house up for sale and moved that spring into a 1,600-square-foot, three-bedroom condo in a large old house built in 1877 that had been turned into a four-plex.
“It’s an old, old house that had seen the transition of the Cherokee area,” she says. “It was originally a single-family house. The owner was a tax collector. It was probably a rooming house at one time, then became apartments, and later, condos in the ’80s, when the Cherokee Triangle was coming back.
“We have a lot of paintings, which is why we bought this place, because it has a lot of wall space,” Deb says. Merv is a painter. “We have a huge amount of bookcases, because we have a huge amount of books.”
“We have space for my African art that I have collected over the years,” Merv says.
What do they love about the Highlands?
“It’s diverse,” Merv says. Deb adds, “On my street, I’m between Highland Avenue and Grinstead. We can go on our porch and watch a mini United Nations going up the street to the Kentucky Refugee Ministries. Women from Nepal, Congo. It’s so fantastic. There are people from Peru, West Africa, Central Africa. You can tell who’s who by the way they dress.”
“We have friends who live in the East End and they have monster homes,” Deb says. “That’s not who we are. We are close to the Baxter Theatre. Merv loves to sit on the porch. He’s a people watcher. There’s the park. It’s great for walking. We have pretty much what we need in a neighborhood.
“We are urban people. I am, especially,” says Deb, who grew up in San Francisco and has lived in New York, Boston, Los Angeles, and London. “This is perfect. I don’t want land, I don’t want a large place. I want atmosphere, and I want to see people around.”
“If I’m going to meet a friend for a drink, I can walk over to a place on Bardstown Road,” Merv says. “We live around the corner from the Fat Lamb, which is becoming our favorite restaurant.”
Though the condo is more expensive than their house, it’s been worth it. “It’s where I want to be,” Merv says.