Lafayette Flats was born from a simple desire to get out of town. We adore our home in Charleston's East End but we are adventurers at heart. We found out early on in our relationship that we travel really well together and set a goal to do it as much as we can. Weekend trips to places such as Asheville, Columbus, Charlotte and Louisville became the norm, and, of course we've been all over our beautiful home state of West Virginia. Two years ago we drove across the country on Route 66 and last fall we toured Northern California: Yosemite, Redwoods, Wine Country. We loved every minute of it. But busy schedule and professional responsibilities make the big trips few and far between, so we satisfy our travelin' Jones by making the scenic drive up to Fayetteville as often as we can. Maybe it's the Bacon Jam at The Secret Sandwich Society, the excitement of wildlife sightings, or the breathtaking view of the Gorge that simply never gets old, something kept us coming back again and again.
So we set off to find a little apartment in Fayetteville where we could leave a change of clothes and a toothbrush for weekend visits. We knew it had to be in town or within walking distance of town, but other than that, we had no expectations. After watching the ads and regularly checking local bulletin boards, we quickly realized that there were far more people looking for apartments than there were actual places to rent. One day on a walk through town we saw a "For Sale" sign on a building and began to wonder if it might be feasible to purchase a property and start our own vacation rental property. A cute little house on High Street first caught our attention but it disappeared from the market before we could make an offer. Next we found an apartment building that was advertised for sale and waited several months until the owner was ready to show it. While we waited to tour the building we allowed ourselves to dream of what we could do there, immediately thinking about the quaint boutique hotel where we stayed in San Francisco. Would it be possible to replicate that in Fayetteville, WV? We schemed and planned and dreamed and imagined every possible scenario. By this time, the vacation rental idea seemed to be a good compromise between running a hotel and being landlords: the former we knew we probably couldn't do and the latter we knew we didn't want to do. We felt ourselves becoming part of the Fayetteville community even though we really didn't know anyone there, and by the time the showing was schedule, we had mentally bought the building.
At the showing, however, it didn't take long to realize that this particular building just wasn't right for us. But what happened next changed our course and set the stage for what would ultimately become Lafayette Flats.
As we left the building a little deflated, Adam and Elizabeth, who had also been on the tour, told us that the stone building next door was also for sale. We were surprised. We had always loved the gorgeous cut-stone walkup and wondered about it from the street, but there had been no signs indicating that it was for sale.
Elizabeth assured us that it was for sale and that her father, a realtor, had recently shown the building. She asked if we would be interested in looking at it and we immediately said yes. At that very moment (no exaggeration - that very moment) Elizabeth's father Charlie drove by and honked the horn at his daughter. She got him to stop and chat with us over coffee at Wildflour Bakery. Charlie told us that he felt the property would be ideal as a vacation rental without knowing that we had been envisioning the very same thing!
We came back to Fayetteville the next week to look at the building more closely and were amazed by its condition. After crunching the numbers and developing construction and business plans, we became more excited by the day - not just at the idea of owning a small piece of the town we had come to love, but also the idea of owning a historic building that would be a part of the next chapter in Fayetteville's history.
Now here's something you need to know about us: we don't buy each other gifts. Oh, maybe a little trinket that we might find that made us think of the other, but not perfunctory gifts for birthdays or Christmas. It's just not our style. But for our first wedding anniversary, defined by proper etiquette as the "paper" anniversary, we gave each other a very special gift: the paper contract to purchase the Malcolm Building.
If you are interested in reading more about our adventure, check out our blog.