Globe Tobacco Lofts

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More than 120 years after its construction in the heyday of tobacco in Mount Airy, North Carolina, the Globe Tobacco warehouse has been rejuvenated to provide much-needed housing for working families in the town made famous by the fictional exploits of Mayberry Sheriff Andy Taylor and Deputy Barney Fife.

Globe Tobacco Lofts are 43 apartments at 838 S. Main St. in Mount Airy. The 1-, 2- and 3-bedroom apartments feature high ceilings, hardwood floors and exposed brick and ductwork that reflect the building’s historic character. Completed in December 2007, the lofts—34 of which are income-restricted—quickly filled up.

In 2008, the project won a J. Timothy Anderson Award for Excellence in Historic Rehabilitation from the National Housing & Rehabilitation Association.


Blending historic tax credits with affordable housing tax credits, the developers of Globe Tobacco Lofts preserved a pivotal structure in the Mount Airy National Historic Register District and raised the bar for rental housing. To celebrate the building’s heritage and its continuing local impact, the developer commissioned a trompe l’oeil mural to be painted on two walls just off the main lobby.


Built around 1887, the Globe Tobacco warehouse opened at a time when the tobacco industry in Mount Airy was flourishing. By 1916, however, the building was being used as a barrel-making shop, and from the 1920s until the late 1980s it was being used by the textile industry. With the decline of the textile industry in North Carolina, the building stood vacant as the region worked to reinvent itself a center for high-tech manufacturing and biotechnology. In the context of the region’s economic development, the vacant building became attractive again. Once the N.C. Housing Finance Agency awarded the developer affordable-housing tax credits, restoration began.


During demolition, as additions to the original building were peeled back like the layers of an onion, sections of wood flooring were repurposed for continued use in the renovation phase of the project. Some of the structural steel that remained in what became the common courtyard now “encases” the playground equipment, providing interesting views from residents’ balconies and stimulation for a child’s imagination.

Energy-saving features in the renovation include high-efficiency split-system heat with all duct work and air handlers located in conditioned spaces, and the maximization of available windows and window walls to take advantage of daylight and views to the outside.

The lofts come with modern kitchen appliances, washer-dryer hookups, mini-blinds, ceiling fans, walk-in closets, central air conditioning and heat pumps. There are 20,000 square feet of community space, including an exercise room with fitness station and a study area with computer for children. The building also has an elevator and indoor parking.

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