As I climb up the staircase, I can’t help but note the creak of the timber as it yields slightly to my feet, the cool that comes from the brick walls, and the dim but warm wash of the corridor light far above my head. There are no fancy LEDs, no cheap plastic, no shiny new vinyl trimmings - this is a space comfortable with its age and its history, content to be exactly what it is. The building in question sits on Front Street amid Oak and Van Ronkle, nestled in one of the older blocks of Downtown Conway. Shops below, housing above - a familiar arrangement in cities, towns, villages, and hamlets all over the world, and as the saying goes, if it ain’t broke…
Speaking of housing above, having ascended to the landing stage and passed several doors, each with its own curling golden number, I turn a short corner and step through the threshold to arrive at my destination - a bright, airy studio apartment situated in the northwest corner of the second floor. Tall windows divide the stone and brick of the walls to peer out over the nearby streets, long curtains hanging from the dark-beamed ceiling add to the feeling of openness. There’s a balcony/patio perched on the side of the building beyond a french door at the north end of the apartment, just past a well-appointed kitchen and cozy sleeping area.
I could go on, but part of trying to be a good writer involves knowing when a picture will tell your story better. I’ll let you decide which you prefer. But the story is the reason I’m here, and the fellow who inhabits this beautiful space had invited me here to tell me how he came to occupy it, and what it means to him.
Grant is a tall, youthful-looking and genial man in his early thirties. His countenance and posture are relaxed and open, particularly in his own space. His conversation is thoughtful and unhurried, but at the same time brims with life and enthusiasm. “The vibe of Downtown over the last five to ten years has really changed.” he muses. “When I first moved to Conway, there seemed to not be a lot going on. That has definitely changed, and I started noticing that. I really love that we have options now - restaurants, salons, events...there’s been a real surge of opportunity to get involved...and to live life down here. I love the building, and how old it is...this place tells a story.” he continues. “I really like that my story is going to be a part of that. I look out, and I see life outside.”
As we talk, the familiar rumble of a train chugging along the nearby tracks passes by. I hear the bustle of cars on the streets below, the chatter of birds going about their daily business, and all of the other sounds of the city just on the other side of the tall windows, which blunt their intrusions to a gentle murmur. You don’t just see life happening - you can hear and feel it too.
“If you’re wanting to try something new, if you want a change, and you want to feel more involved in your community and things going on, then yeah, live Downtown.” he concludes. “Because there’s a lot going on here.”
- Written by Taylor Weston -