Jerry Clifton, owner & developer

“Jerry’s Crazies” is a group of runners that participate in runs locally and across the country to raise money for charity.

Jerry Clifton loves a challenge. A runner, an entrepreneur and a real estate developer, Jerry enjoys tackling what others might see as incredible odds and finding a way to create something special from the test.

The Lofts on Gault may well be Jerry’s toughest challenge to date. When we walked into the space in late 2020, he was greeted by fire and water damage, along with countless loads of discarded and damaged junk.

“It was a mess,” says Jerry. “I’ve renovated a lot of property over the years, but this was by far the worst space I had ever walked into.”

But Jerry could see past narrow trails that wound through the clutter, and could envision what the space could be. “This was exactly what I was looking for, in terms of location and potential,” Jerry says. “It was in worse shape than I had hoped, but I had a vision for what it could become.”

And so Jerry began working on that vision, sketching out a floor plan for the dilapidated upper floor of the historic building at 101 Gault Avenue. Soon thereafter he got in touch with Alabama’s office for the National Register of Historic Places, and a bold plan was formed.

“I’ve renovated other buildings in downtown Fort Payne, and I love seeing the revitalization it brings,” Jerry says. “But I wanted to do more than renovate this space. Because of its historical significance, I wanted to bring the history of this building back to life as much as possible.”

Jerry Clifton and friends at his annual Christmas party

Such projects are managed through the National Park Service, and Jerry worked closely with their state office to follow the strict federal guidelines required for historical preservation projects. The windows and casings were preserved. The original doors and transoms were restored and installed. The walls are plaster. Even the hardwood flooring, while new, had to match the 2-inch width original to the building.

“To bring the space up to code, we could build new bathrooms and kitchens,” Jerry says. “But otherwise, we couldn’t move any walls. This made the project more challenging, but in the end led us to create two exquisite spaces that I believe guests will fall in love with when they walk in.”

And Jerry’s vision for a one-of-a-kind space is evident throughout. “From furnishings to lighting, I chose a modern eclectic style that would blend well with the historical aspects of the building,” says Jerry. “This really elevated these lofts, and created something guests will want to come back to again and again. There’s just nothing like this anywhere in the region.”

New wiring, plumbing, a sprinkler system, and a security system will help ensure that the building will continue to be a landmark in Fort Payne for years to come.