Duncan Fordham can look out the window of his second-floor office and see how Beaufort has changed.
Fordham’s family has been in business on the corner of Bay and Carteret streets for 70 years but will be closing the doors in a little more than a month. The building will be bought and renovated by Graham Trask and his father, George.
The market, which consists of artists, photographers and merchants, will be cleared by the end of July.
Fordham, 75, and George Trask grew up together.
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“Personally, I’m happy that the building is being sold to someone I know who will have a lot of interest in downtown Beaufort,” Fordham said.
Vendors will have the opportunity to lease space in the newly renovated property, though the current concept of the market — an expansive space with numerous vendors in one room — won’t carry over after the renovation, Graham Trask said.
The work will include storefront windows along Carteret Street, new stairs and an elevator to the second floor, fresh paint, commercial space and apartments, Trask said. Closing is in early August, and plans for the building will have to go before Beaufort’s historic review panel.
The space facing Bay Street would be great for a restaurant, Trask said, with a possible rooftop bar.
Fordham’s name is expected to remain on the facade.
Fordham’s father, Angus, started the hardware store in 1946. Angus Fordham, a World War II veteran, served as Beaufort mayor almost 20 years.
Duncan Fordham first considered selling the building in 2003, but the contract fell through.
“I had a 16,000-square-foot empty store,” Fordham said. “Instead of going back in the hardware business, someone suggested I might try this concept.”
In 2004, Duncan Fordham reopened the business as Fordham Market, offering a hodgepodge of wares from artists and merchants. The concept was borrowed from Blacklion furniture and home goods market in Charlotte, said Jesse Yopp, who helped Fordham develop the new business.
“He saw one of them and said ‘We can do this,’ ” Yopp said. “And he did do it.”
Yopp sells bird feeders, birdhouses, hats and purses from his spaces in the Fordham’s store. He said vendors have scrambled to find other arrangements.
Yopp signed a lease on a new space Tuesday and said Fordham has helped other vendors find new spaces.
“We found a home, but some of the others didn’t,” Yopp said.
A large, second-floor warehouse has been cleared but still includes some carryover items from Fordham Hardware. Much of the room’s contents went to the Boys & Girls Club of Beaufort thrift store, Fordham said.
In his office, Fordham can flip through prints he has collected of historic downtown scenes. They show The Peoples Bank, once across the street from his building. A next-door gas station was believed to be the first in Beaufort, he said.
Out the window, Fordham watched the Richard V. Woods Memorial Bridge swing open at lunch time. He remembers the clap of cars crossing the wooden bridge before it.
Fordham had his first boat at 10 years old and navigated the creeks with the 10-horsepower motor. He is content now to be out of the sun and said it is a good time to pass his building to a friend.
“What makes my family happy is the building not only going to friends, but they’re going to do a good job with what they do,” Fordham said