URBANA – The Champaign County Preservation Alliance (CCPA) hosted its second annual Urban Loft Tour on Saturday, coinciding with Urbana downtown business shops’ holiday open house weekend. Sidewalks were busy with tourists and shoppers on the bright, sunny autumn afternoon with temperatures in the low 50s.
Both events were successful at drawing people to the Monument Square District.
The Urban Loft Tour helps the CCPA raise funds to continue its commitment to the preservation and viability of Champaign County’s historic structures. The CCPA also hosts a Home and Garden Tour each June.
According to literature from the CCPA, commercial development in post-World War II Urbana has been largely single-story design. However, for the 19th and early 20th century, multi-story structures were the norm. They were built with a variety of uses in mind. Retail spaces dominated the ground level with office, auditorium, lodge hall and residential spaces on the upper levels. Downtown Urbana’s varied streetscape of styles includes Federal, Romanesque, Renaissance Revival, Classical Revival, Art Deco and Modern. As Saturday’s tourists discovered, this variety in exterior design gives way to equally-varied interior spaces.
Some buildings on the tour were in the very early stages of renovation and were uninhabited, some were in continuous improvement phase and being used as multi-family residences or boarding houses and others were fully renovated and being utilized as single-family dwellings.
The nature of the upstairs spaces allows for use of long stretches of walls uninterrupted by windows in the galley-type layout of the narrow but deep living spaces. Large windows, some of which are artistically shaped, bring in the natural light from either end of the tunnel-like floor plans.
Saturday’s tour allowed sun-streamed enjoyment of private spaces seldom open to the pubic and views of Monument Square from the vantage points of one of the tallest buildings downtown. The ongoing progress of the Gloria Theater was also part of Saturday’s tour.