The house is big, old, and beautiful. Nestled on one of Downtown Conway’s many quiet side streets, its towering columns, multiple balconies, numerous windows, and sprawling front porch whisper of days long past in which the clock – if there was one – was wooden, standing in the corner or mounted on the wall, and didn’t mark the relentless pace of days filled with far too much activity, as often seems the case for many of us lately.
Maybe these surroundings attract the kind of folks whose thoughts run a little deeper, wider, and less hurried. It’s easy to find yourself looking back rather than forward when you’re surrounded by all the stories that seep out of the brick and mortar of the buildings around here, and especially if you stop inside and talk to some of the Merchants and hear the tales of their parents and grandparents who first lived and worked Downtown.
But lest we be tempted to think that this is only a haven for nostalgia for those looking to relive “the good old days”, there are plenty of younger folks who feel the pull of Downtown Conway and choose to work and live here. One of the occupants calling this venerable old house home is Zacchaeus Jolly, an actor and location manager for THINK Coffee. Still in his early twenties, he’s thoughtful and composed, but also friendly and outgoing – kind of like Downtown, if you think about it (except for the early twenties bit).
“Gosh, I really love living here.” he muses, with evident feeling and authenticity. “The proximity to so many small businesses, being able to walk to some of my favorite spots, to clear my mind, to get out. I love to take walks, so when I moved here, it was sort of natural that it would be one of the first things I did.” And with that, he steps off the porch, onto the sidewalk, and strolls out of his yard and into the heart of old Downtown.
We pass many of his favorite haunts – Streetside Creperie, which his employer also owns, Blue Sail Coffee, where he can often be found enjoying a latte, and Brick & Forge, where he and his friends regularly convene for late night brews. As we move westward along the sidewalk, we pause to admire public artwork, cross streets with a quick wave to generous drivers, glance into store windows, and absorb the sounds of life happening around us. One can readily see why Zacchaeus spends so much of his time striding through this district on his own two feet.
It’s an experience that reminds us that this is exactly so how many people have experienced Downtown Conway down through the years, whether running to meet your friends after rolling into town on a wagon from out in the county, strolling to a restaurant after church services, or meandering down the sidewalk with a loved one on a warm summer evening. When we allow ourselves to slow down and enjoy where we are, we aren’t so worried about where we’re going next. It’s a wonderful thing to not be in a hurry, and Downtown Conway is the kind of place that allows that to happen.
“There seems to be a community feel…sort of like a town square feel to his area, and I really enjoy that. It’s a pretty place to take a stroll.” Zacchaeus concludes with a smile, having arrived back in his front yard. “So why wouldn’t I?”