The Sanford Buggy Factory has gone from downtown Sanford’s biggest blight to perhaps its crown jewel.
And not just because the 109-year-old four-story downtown anchor is in use after a few decades of inactivity. The new home of the Sanford Growth Alliance, Sanford Planning Department, Sanford Area Chamber of Commerce, Lee County EDC and Downtown Sanford, Inc. is gorgeous, for lack of a better term.
The revitalization effort goes back more than six years — in March 2010, The Sanford Herald reported on an effort by Sanford-based Progressive Contracting Company to mold the building for commercial and residential use. Leon Tongret, formerly of Central Carolina Community College, had dreams of taking advantage of the Buggy Factory’s wide floor plan and creating space for art galleries.
Tongret’s plan fell through, but city leaders began eyeing the building in 2013.
The aforementioned organizations began moving in in February, and the Buggy Factory — which manufactured buggies and one-horse rockaways at the turn of the 20th century before automobiles became the preferred mode of transportation — housed a ribbon-cutting ceremony earlier this month.
The centerpiece of the new facility is a buggy hanging from the rafters in the ground-floor lobby, reminiscent of the carts W.A. Maness from Carthage built over a century ago (coincidentally, or perhaps not, the Factory is located on Carthage Street).
Below are photos from the inside and out of the building, just one of many current improvements and renovations happening in downtown Sanford.