Popular downtown barber opens lofts above his shop
(pictured above: Walter Roy Little poses next to a picture of his sister, Ella Gilford, inside one of the Ella’s Lofts units.)
A dedication ceremony was held for Ella’s Lofts, downtown’s newest living spaces, on Sunday, May 18.
The four lofts are above Purr-fect Cut Barber Shop and A Touch of Love Hair Salon. Barber Walter Roy Little has owned the building at 528 N. Liberty St. since 1990, when he opened Purr-Fect Cut.
Little said it took awhile to find the proper use for the building’s long vacant second floor. After he decided to convert the space into lofts, it took months of renovations to realize the concept.
“I’m elated, no doubt, about it,” Little said of the finished product. “I’ve been receiving the accolades. It’s emotional. I know I can’t take credit for it; I know I didn’t do it on my own. If it hadn’t been for the Lord Jesus Christ, that’s what made it come to pass.”
After a reception downstairs at Purr-Fect Cut – where Little’s pastor, Rev. John Mitchell of Abundant Life Christian Ministries in Walkertown, prayed for the new venture – an open house was held upstairs in the lofts. Mitchell was among those amazed by the transformation of the second floor, which was in complete disrepair a year ago.
“There is no way in the world that you can even imagine what this building looked like upstairs if you hadn’t seen it with your human eyes before the renovation,” he said.
Constructed in 1923, the building is part of the Downtown North Historic District on the National Register for Historic Deeds; therefore, special care was taken to use as much of its original materials as possible to restore it. The original hardwood floors have been refinished to shine like new, and original sky light openings have new glass. Many of the original windows and doors remain; the door to Amy’s Beauty Shop, one of the businesses that occupied the space decades ago, has been used as the front door for one of the lofts, which are available to rent through Ogburn Properties.
There are also distinctly modern touches such as central air and heating, stack washer and dryers and a sprinkler system. Two of the units have dishwashers. The one-bedroom, one bathroom units cost between $735–$825 a month, a price Little said he hopes renters will find affordable.
Architect David E. Gall and his firm designed the apartments. Joyce Pope served as the principal designer, and IL Long Construction Company handled the renovations. Gall said that aside from being beautiful units in a historic building, the lofts’ location is just perfect for those who like the energy of downtown.
“If you like downtown living, it’s a perfect place to live because you got King’s Grocery store up here not too far away, the Transit Center is close by for bus transit, you can walk to work if you work downtown,” he said.
Gall said that restoring historic sites like the lofts is a passion of his; he is hoping to offer his services for free to restore historic shotgun houses in the Happy Hill community.
The lofts were a big hit with the 65 people attending the opening dedication and the many more who came by during the two hours the units were open for tours. The steady stream of visitors were met by a picture of Little’s sister, Ella Gilford, for whom the project is named.
Gilford lives in a nursing home, incapacitated by Alzheimer’s. Her husband Charles travelled from Detroit for the occasion.
“I think it’s a wonderful tribute to her, a wonderful tribute to his sister. Really, it’s an indication of the closeness between them,” Charles Gilford said.
Those interested in Ella’s Lofts may call Ogburn Properties at 336-748-0700 or go to www.ogburnproperties.com.