Asheboro, Delightfully Repurposed
An architect and an artist prove you can go home again
By Amy & Peter Freeman
It was that time of year again: my wife, Amy’s annual rejuvenation project requiring an army of assistants — meaning, son Louis and me. As in years past, her plans for a reorganized closet, a replanted garden or a spruced up bedroom elicited our moans and groans. But her excitement is always infectious and before long, Louis and I reluctantly march along to her whim.
For this year’s endeavor, Amy had set her sights on “cleaning up” her workspace. And what better way to clean up than to give everything the old heave-ho? Almost everything. We decided to repurpose two furniture pieces that we were vaguely attached to.
Expecting to find all the resources for our highly expressive design project in the immediate orbit of our beloved “furniture capital” of High Point or in one of the highbrow decorator oases in Greensboro or Winston-Salem, we were thrilled to find an abundance of resources readily available at the source — Amy’s hometown of Asheboro.
On a recent visit to Amy’s mom, we came to appreciate that Asheboro’s downtown is not only a mecca for any D.I.Y. enthusiast, but also reflects a genuine culture of support for local artisans, makers and craftsmen. Asheboro is walkable, friendly and small-town urban. City visionaries have provided a framework and canvas for entrepreneurship to blossom. Scaled interventions —a farmers market, a community chalkboard for self-expression, hanging baskets, pocket parks and pedestrian-focused embellishments — enhance the essence of the Randolph County seat without overpowering it.
The result? Asheboro has attracted a collection of thriving downtown businesses that are sure to be the envy of larger neighboring cities and communities.
Our most recent venture began with our customary stop at The Table, the self-described “farmhouse bakery,” a delightful European inspired patisserie, coffeehouse and eatery with a local flair. We could have spent the rest of the morning sipping espresso, people watching and observing folks, mostly kids covered with chalk dust, as they scribbled on the community chalkboard.
But we had to stick to our intended purpose of repurposing furniture. What we found was not one but three places to guide us. The Vintage Cottage, Collective Interiors (see page 21) and The Window Workshop offered the materials we needed for our D.I.Y. project and more importantly, the knowledge, assistance and hands-on experience to help us execute it. At each shop, we picked up a variety of ideas, techniques and finishing provisions to accomplish our goals, not to mention opportunities for workshops and examples of refinished pieces completed by the shopkeepers. With our newfound knowledge and supplies, our appetite for the project had increased.
Along with our more visceral appetites. Within a few steps, Amy and I stumbled upon Taco Loco, a street-side taco joint with a garage door façade allowing the bistro to spill out into the street. The place was another thoughtful nod to downtown enhancement. After a satisfying bite, we struck out in search of something to quench our thirst. Along the way we were enticed by the aroma wafting from the Asheboro Popcorn Co., a brand-new snack shop, where owners combat veteran Sara Holden and her husband Greg Holden have made it their mission to take the familiar corn kernel to a higher level. We were treated to samples of non-GMO popcorn in several delectable, savory and sweet flavors before settling in on a small portion of the creamy dill mix.
With hunger pangs sated, Four Saints Brewing Company and the desire for a quality handcrafted local brew began to occupy our thoughts. What we ran into was Ashe-toberfest, an autumnal celebration of the season sponsored by the brewery. Folks in fanciful costume and the sounds of live music filled the air both inside and from the adjacent Bicentennial Park. We finished off a St. Wenceslaus Bohemian Pilsner and a St. Luke Honey Ginger Pale Ale and reflected on the changes and improvements to downtown Asheboro.
In his posthumous opus, You Can’t Go Home Again, North Carolina novelist Thomas Wolfe suggests that you cannot return to the narrow confines of your previous way of life. But with the discoveries of our latest excursion to Amy’s Asheboro, a town that has worked hard at reinventing itself and redefining its image, we’ll gladly go home again . . . and again . . . and again.
Amy and Peter Freeman include among their pastimes mindless wandering. Amy, a photographer, and Peter, an architect, are perpetually in search of new gigs, fresh digs and fun swigs.