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Loft Living in Historic Downtown Fairbury, NebraskaLoft Living In
Historic Downtown Fairbury

August 2010 - Visitors marvel at the beautiful architecture that surrounds Fairbury’s historic downtown square. Stately two and three-story buildings, mostly constructed of brick, line the streets surrounding the Jefferson County Courthouse on all four sides.  Most buildings date back to the early 1900s, when Fairbury flourished as a regional commerce center. Fairbury’s downtown historic district is still the center of commerce today and the buildings around the square house retail shops, restaurants, and offices at street level. But there is another world housed within those historic structures, a world that exists after hours - a world that a few lucky residents call "home".

In housing terms, loft living often refers to an open floor plan with lots of space. Once thought of as strictly for artists and bohemian types, loft living is now a sought after lifestyle accessory among certain groups of people. In city centers, artists, actors and young business professionals all love the idea of having a loft as their home. It provides maximum space, and improvements can be made to reflect individual styles and tastes. In Fairbury, most of the lofts are located within the downtown historic district. Before they were turned into stylish living spaces, the lofts were used as commercial space in buildings. Older buildings that have been left empty for years have now been given a new lease on life, thanks to loft living.

Loft living in Fairbury is not unlike that of the larger cities in the Midwest, however, in Fairbury it is still somewhat of an anomaly.  Many of the buildings’ second and third stories remain largely underutilized, mainly due to cost. But for those who have taken on the task of converting those spaces into residential living, the payoff is huge. Loft sizes can range from 1,000 to 2,500 square feet and the list of amenities is quite impressive - hardwood floors, exposed brick walls, high ceilings, tall windows, rooftop gardens and views that would rival those of any other metropolitan city. Another bonus of loft living is that the lofts are situated in the downtown historical district. This provides great access to businesses, shopping, restaurants, art galleries and entertainment options. In downtown Fairbury, everything is at your doorstep.

Resident Julie Katz has lived on the second floor above the former Hested's (c. 1925) and Golden Rule buildings (c. 1923) since 1995, when her life-long dream of living in a loft began to take shape. “I had always been fascinated with the concept of loft living, ever since I was a young girl. When I first moved in, however, I was the only resident rattling around in a huge building that was dark, cold and full of strange noises. But the banging of pipes from the old steam heat radiators and the sound of rain on the skylights located throughout, gave me a sense that this building still had a lot of life left and it was worth preserving."  Since then, retail has returned to the main floor which houses an antique mall, events center, professional offices and beauty salon and the second-floor space has now been updated and converted into luxury suites, loft apartments and office space. There's even a ballroom where hundreds of children attend dance classes each week.

According to Katz, "Converting the upper floor space into office space and suites is a great way to create a consistent revenue stream and gives me an opportunity to share my passion for historic preservation with others, hopefully inspiring them to begin a love affair of their own (with an old building)”.

 
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