10LoftTourMany of the stately buildings that line Hay Street were built in the 1800s. They’ve housed businesses and bars, fallen into disrepair and been revived and refurbished. Today, most of the storefronts are once again home to unique and thriving businesses. But what about the space above these eateries, art galleries, bookstores, antique stores and other unique establishments? What’s up there? Many of the spaces are homes to families embracing the lifestyle that downtown offers. The Candlelight Loft Tour on Dec. 10 from 5-8 p.m. offers a chance to see these living spaces decked out for the holidays. It is a self-guided event. Pick up your tickets and a map, and you are on your way.

“We have half a dozen or so properties on the tour this year,” Cool Spring Downtown District general manager Sam DuBose said. “There are definitely some new and returning champions.”

Dr. Hank Parfitt, owner of one of the properties on the tour, said, “Every year, hundreds of people come to downtown Fayetteville for the Candlelight Loft Tour two weeks before Christmas. Their fascination with these apartments, designed and constructed within buildings that are 100 and even 150 years old, is understandable. After all, loft apartments are associated with ‘the big cities,’ and they are a growing trend. The striking variety from one loft apartment to the next is also an attraction. Each architect’s clever solutions to the numerous design challenges make the Loft Tour an evening of discovery and marvel.”

Parfitt and his wife, Diane, are owners of City Center Gallery & Books on Hay Street. Their apartment above the bookstore is part of this year’s tour and has been featured in the past as well.

“Ray’s Grocers first occupied our building in the early 1890s when grocery stores were a relatively new concept,” Parfitt said. “City residents still shopped for fresh produce and meats under the Market House, but it was becoming a less popular option, and the open-air market there was closed by 1907.”

Through the years, the building was also home to a young ladies’ dress shop and a wig shop as well. The Parfitts purchased the building in 1999. In 2003, they opened City Center Gallery & Books, specializing in used and hard-to-find books and art “of Fayetteville and by Fayetteville.” The apartment above was finished the next year.

“During one of the loft tours, as a petit and slightly frail elderly woman entered our apartment, she stopped before the grand staircase and exclaimed, ‘This is where I bought my wedding dress!’” Parfitt said.

“This is the first year for the Cool Spring Downtown District to host the Candlelight Loft Tour,” said Du- Bose. “We are really excited about it.”

The self-guided tour runs from 5-8 p.m. Dec. 10. Check-in is at ReMax Edge, 214 Hay St., from 5-7 p.m. Tickets cost $10 in advance or $12 at the door. They are available in advance at The Pilgrim in Westwood Shopping Center, at the Cool Spring Downtown District office at 222 Hay St. and at many Downtown businesses. Call (910) 223-1089 for more information.

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