On Saturday Nov. 5, visitors to downtown Urbana will have a unique opportunity to explore the upper floors of a number of downtown buildings. While the ground floors of these buildings are often available to the public, the upper floors are seldom seen.
Now in its third year, the Urban Loft Tour has celebrated a wide diversity of spaces and architectural styles. The tour is sponsored by the Champaign County Preservation Alliance with the support of Real Living Darby Creek. The sites on the tour will give participants the opportunity to see a variety of spaces from those in the raw to wonderfully decorated residences. Participants will have the opportunity to gain a behind-the-scenes view of key buildings in the historic core of Urbana. In addition to upper floor spaces in seven downtown buildings, the CCPA will also have its NX23 Rail Car open for view.
The GrandWorks Foundation has made the Gloria Theatre available as the headquarters location and starting point for the tour. Visitors can purchase tour tickets at the Theatre and also enjoy the opportunity to see the progress being made by GrandWorks volunteers toward the revitalization of this iconic structure.
In the 19th and 20th centuries, the upper floors of several downtown Urbana buildings served as meeting spaces for concerts, speeches, dinners and lodge meetings. Historically, fraternal organizations have played an important role in the development of our community. Downtown Urbana was once home to a number of lodge halls. One building on this year’s tour was home to Union Hall, a multi-purpose meeting space.
The 2016 Urban Loft Tour will also feature the most prominent local example of a purpose-built fraternal structure. One hundred years ago on July 20, 1916, the Masonic community in Urbana dedicated its impressive temple at 222 North Main Street. Tour participants will be able to view multiple floors of the Urbana Masonic Temple and its members will be available to explain the architecture and answer questions.
In communities large and small across America, many people are choosing to make their homes in the central core of our cities. This trend has given new life to many historic urban structures. The 2016 Urban Loft Tour will include both completed and as yet unrestored residential loft spaces.
The tour sites will be open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tickets are $17 on the day of the tour. On the tour day, visitors should purchase their tickets in the lobby of the Gloria Theatre, 216 S. Main Street. Advance purchase tickets will be available for $15.00 through November 4th at Urbana financial institutions and the Chamber of Commerce office.
Since the tour focuses on spaces that are located on the upper floors of historic downtown buildings, stair climbing ability is essential. Pets are not allowed and comfortable shoes and warm clothing are recommended as some sights are without heat.
Enjoy a day full of discovery and fun in the historic heart of Urbana! The Champaign County Preservation Alliance Urban Loft Tour is being held in conjunction with the Monument Square District’s Holiday Open House. Loft Tour sites are intermingled with Urbana’s unique downtown shops.
Visit http://www.urbanahomeandgardentour.com/urban-loft-tour.html to view photos and read additional information.
Submitted by the Champaign County Preservation Alliance.