There's a lot of talk around downtown Beaufort these days. Businesses closing, rumors of businesses closing, festivals and food, celebrities and heroes on the streets and in the coffee shops, parking and, well, parking are all part of the general hubbub on Bay Street and beyond.
Lively conversations at Harry's or the John Cross Tavern -- depending on the time of day or night one wanted to converse -- are gone, but you can still get the scuttlebutt at Blackstone's or the barbershop.
If you need black fishnet stockings (don't ask), Lipsitz's more than 100-year-old treasure trove is only a memory, but you can find cards that make you laugh out loud as Lulu B. celebrates her 10-year anniversary.
Like towns in all places and in all times -- thriving or surviving -- things in Beaufort evolve. Sometimes it happens without much notice. A scenic, two-lane mountain road with a pancake house, gas station and turn off to Silver Dollar City, Tenn., at the only traffic light -- one that changes from blinking yellow to full-color stop-and-go for three tourist-prone months of the year -- becomes a 10-mile, gridlocked Pigeon Forge, Tenn., with traffic lights every 10 feet and the locals shaking their heads lamenting, "How the heck did this happen?"
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Fortunately, Beaufort is not Pigeon Forge. Beaufortonians like to have a say about how things evolve.
It is sometimes difficult to maneuver through individual agendas or long public meetings to find the right place for one's voice.
During the past three years, the Beaufort Three-Century Project has provided a vehicle for people to consider how the past might inform the future. On Sunday, there will be another opportunity to think about this critical question.
This time we're talking "form." Form as in buildings, architecture and the elusive form-based code. Don't nod off at the ubiquitous FBC reference. This is important and should be fun.
From noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday afternoon, everyone is invited to the Verdier House to see results of an architecture design competition -- EXPO 2011: The Future Form of Historic Beaufort. B3C partnered with Historic Beaufort Foundation, the city of Beaufort and Beaufort County to host this competition. Brainchild of county planning staff member Teri Norris, local architects and designers will install displays of their creative interpretation of what the future form of Beaufort might look like considering our historic form.
They will be competing for three $1,000 cash awards, one determined by the people who visit the show and vote on "People's Choice." The exhibition will remain at the Verdier House throughout October and is free and open to the public Monday-Saturday. If participating in Sunday afternoon's opening is not possible, there are three weeks to vote before the final awards ceremony, also on a Sunday afternoon, Oct. 31.
After visiting the architecture exhibition, a stroll down Bay Street to Lipsitz Shoes for a photography show by artists Susan DeLoach and Paul Nurnberg, titled "Lipsitz Department Store -- Treasures in the Attic," will cap Sunday's events from 3 to 5 p.m. It won't be possible to purchase fishnet stockings, but there will be retro-refreshments and exquisite art from a two-day photo shoot before the department store auctioned off the remnants of Beaufort merchandising at its finest.
It's a Sunday and parking is free, so people can focus conversation on the art and architecture. Scuttlebutt and celeb sightings are also allowed.
Deborah S. Johnson is project coordinator of the Beaufort Three-Century Project