Published 12:44 am Sunday, March 30, 2014

Visitors tour Norma Habeeb’s loft apartment at 1211 Washington St. Saturday during the Lofts of Vicksburg tour.

Visitors tour Norma Habeeb’s loft apartment at 1211 Washington St. Saturday during the Lofts of Vicksburg tour.

Downtown highlighted with tour of lofts

History and décor were on display Saturday as 12 downtown residents opened their doors to visitors and give them as glimpse of urban living during Vicksburg Main Street’s Lofts of Vicksburg tour.

The six-hour event featured some of the city’s more elegant downtown residences and others still under construction in the Washington Street area.
Kim Hopkins, Main Street executive director, said about 228 people took the tour.
“We’re very pleased with the turnout,” she said. “The tickets were higher this year, from $10 to $20, but everyone was pleased.”
“We had volunteers in front of all the lofts on the tour so people would know where they were, and volunteers inside the lofts to help show them.”
Volunteers were also available to chauffer visitors to the tour stops in a golf cart.
Also, she said, local Realtors were on hand to help people interested in leasing an apartment or purchasing or leasing a building downtown for a business. She added downtown apartment building owners whose lofts were not on the tour were showing their spaces on request.
The majority of the lofts open for visitors were on Washington Street, with the Aeolian, on Cherry Street, and Peterson’s Art and Antiques on Crawford Street the only tour stops outside the city’s main downtown business area. Each furnished apartment on the tour gave visitors a glance of how people furnished their apartments and how they were designed.
The Aeolian, which was developed as an apartment complex for senior citizens, was one of several new stops on the tour. Others included the Lofts at First National Bank, which are under construction, and the Warehouse Apartments, which included finished and unfinished apartments.
Another new stop was Norma Habeeb’s Washington Street apartment, which is in a building built in 1842, and believed to be the oldest building on Washington Street.
The building was remodeled in 1994, and Habeeb has been in the apartment since about 2005. The loft is marked by a large living space featuring a bright yellow sofa, and glass wall separating the living area from her bedroom. But her most prized feature is the corner of the bedroom decorated with artwork made by her grandchildren.
“Make sure you get a picture of my grandchildren’s art,” she told The Vicksburg Post’s photographer. “It’s the best art in the city.”
To the north of Habeeb’s residence, the building housing the apartment of Laura and Troy Weeks was built in 1870.
“It was a boarding house on the second floor and a saloon on the first floor,” Troy Weeks said.
“We started remodeling the second floor in 2005 and finished in July 2006,” he said. “The second floor had originally been used for storage, but it hadn’t been used for about 50 years. It was a mess. The roof was sagging because the supporting walls had been removed, and the floor had rotted.”
The apartment features an elevated kitchen and a courtyard in the rear, and every nook and cranny of the loft is used in some capacity.
“We only have 1,600 square feet,” Laura Weeks said. “So we make use of every bit of space we can.”
On the opposite end of Washington, Daryl Hollingsworth and his partner, Mary Jane Wooten, showed off their 17-unit complex in the Warehouse, which is a two-building complex that once was one of two buildings that at one time included the former 13-room Ware House hotel and a sports bar and lounge.
Wooten said seven of the apartments are “short-term stays,” meaning they are leased for 30-day periods.
“You bring your suitcase, write one check and you leave after 30 days,” she said.
The Warehouse tour included visits to finished apartments and a unit still under construction. She added she and Hollingsworth were purchasing all the material and furnishings for the apartments from Vicksburg businesses.
Wooten also made a pitch for downtown, asking people on the tour to spread the word about the availability of downtown buildings either as a residence or for a business.
“We want to make downtown Vicksburg successful,” she said.

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About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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