At its 49th Annual Meeting, Preservation Greensboro board, members, and guests celebrated re-investment in the Gate City. With help from the Keynote Speaker the North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, attendees recognized those who see that some of the most challenging properties are in fact some of the most treasured places. The past year has been prolific for historic preservation in Greensboro. A record number of projects were completed in neighborhoods all across the city, continuing Greensboro’s reputation as a city with character and soul.
The Coltrane-Gray House at 316 Murray Street in Southside is quite unusual in that it is accentuated by “Milk Quartz”. Milk quartz is found here in Guilford County, and is characterized by a durable glazed texture and an opaque appearance. The Coltrane-Gray house contains numerous milk quartz features, including the front porch supports, foundation, chimney and the interior fireplace mantel. Constructed around 1923, the house was built by contractor Thomas Starr who lived a few doors up the street at 312 Murray Street. After completion Starr sold the property to Nora Coltrane, who managed the house as an investment property by renting it, and finally selling the home in 1932 to newlyweds Mary Margaret and Floyd Ernest Gray. At the time, Gray held a position at Southern Public Utilities as a clerk.
The house was in very poor condition and vulnerable to destruction when it was acquired by Cheryl and Tracy Pratt, a team well known in preservation circles having completed a magnificent restoration of a bungalow in Fisher Park. The Coltrane-Gray house is the couple’s first speculative project in which they have corrected structural issues, updated mechanical systems, added a new kitchen and bathrooms, improved the floor plan, and refinished surfaces. Their reinvestment in the Coltrane-Gray House makes the neighborhood that much safer and stronger.
Standing prominently on its hilltop lot, the Pitts House at 114 West Bessemer Avenue in Fisher Park is a great example of Colonial Revival architecture. The home was constructed in 1927 and first occupied by Julius R. Pitts who ran a company that brokered lumber, millwork, and building material. The symmetrical three-bay façade features graceful segmental-arched dormer windows, and a front portico with fluted Corinthian columns.
Sheila Sanders and Craig VanDeventer made their decision to purchase the Pitts House after only one visit! Pam Frye of Chaney-Frye Properties managed renovations. Her observation that the home was a “diamond in the rough” couldn’t be truer. Through the use of the North Carolina Historic Preservation Tax credits, modern conveniences such as kitchen and bathroom were added and character-defining interior appointments were retained, including a grand hallway staircase.
Fifth Avenue in Aycock has enjoyed a revival in the past year. A streetscape full of worn but architecturally fascinating homes has been transformed as homeowners and contractors have sought out re-investment opportunities. The Peele House at 614 Fifth Avenue is a great example of this trend.
The Peele Home was built in 1920 and was first occupied by Mrs. Mary Peele and her daughter Minnie. By the time J. J. Brown found the home, it had fallen into poor condition. Brown selected in New Age Builders to complete all of the skilled and licensed repairs, and then finished the exterior paint and final landscaping with just a little elbow grease! This project utilized the North Carolina Historic Preservation Tax credits and saw a much needed reinvestment into the period bungalow. Today the home is an active part of the great Aycock neighborhood revival.
This proud Philadelphia-style Colonial style house in College Hill has always been eye-catching, but little was known about its history until the recent restoration undertaken by Amanda and James Keith. Located at 303 South Mendenhall Street, the Keith’s discovered their home was built by a woman named Effie Anderson. Mrs Anderson was recently widows when she persuaded one of Greensboro’s star architects, Harry Barton, to design her home in 1915. Barton included impressive features for the fine home including beamed ceilings, high wainscoting with plate rails, and a grand staircase.
By the time the Keith’s found the house, it was used as a rental facility for a women’s volleyball team. The house featured patched-in wiring, window air-condition units, and a compromised structural system. The Keith’s completed a meticulous restoration utilizing North Carolina’s Historic Preservation Tax credits by replacing the mechanical systems, kitchen and bathrooms, and restored charming details such as the side porch and the pent roof.
Olive Street is Fisher Park’s answer to 5th Avenue in Aycock. Over the past few years, the street has seen a make-over that has seen a much needed re-investment into worn housing stock. This charming Craftsman home was constructed in 1917 by grocer George Blackmon at 810 Olive Street. The house was heavily altered in the 1960s, at which time much of its historic character was hidden by false coverings such as aluminum siding.
That didn’t deter contractor Pam Frye, who could see the charm and character of the home. Frye had her crew remove the aluminum siding and opened up an original side porch that long ago had been enclosed to make a closet, thus restoring the home’s original architectural integrity. With five bedrooms, it was no surprise that the house was contracted for purchase by a family even before the job was finished. This is the third house on Olive Street to receive significant exterior renovation in recent months.
Not too many months ago, preservationists were troubled that Irving Park’s oldest home could be knocked down for new construction. The McAdoo-Sanders-Tatum House at 303 Wentworth was caught up in a defaulted mortgage and the corporate owner of the property did not necessarily hold history in its list of interests. The house was to be sold to the highest bidder with no regard to preservation.
Fortunately, the home caught the eye of Katie and Brian Bode, who fell in love with its generous floor plan and intriguing architectural history. The Bodies have discovered that theirs is a house with a mysterious past! In spite of the work of several researchers, including myself, we cannot determine a clear date of construction! Happily, the couple has utilized the North Carolina Historic Preservation Tax credits to enhance the home, and is pursuing designation of the property as Local Landmark property through the county. As a post note, research and oral history indicates that the home is the oldest house in Irving Park, and most likely dates between 1895-1910!
Greensboro is a city that appreciates its past, and that sense of history is well demonstrated in the story of the King’s Chair. The chair was constructed in the backyard of the home of master stone mason Andrew Leopold Schlosser, a native of Slovakia who moved to Greensboro in 1899. Schlosser was selected to complete numerous commissions on fine homes and parks throughout Greensboro, but he is best remembered for his contributions in Fisher Park. Seventy years after his death, the Schlosser family wanted a safe and public site for the fanciful composition they called the “King Chair”. Working with the City of Greensboro, the Fisher Park Neighborhood Association and Schlosser family members, architect Carl Myatt spearheaded efforts to site the chair – where else? In Fisher Park’s West Park. Today, everyone can enjoy this whimsical piece that designed by one of Greensboro’s earliest artists…surrounded by homes and bridges also by his hand.
On April 14th last year, the charming bungalow at 703 Fifth Avenue in the Aycock District sustained damage from a fire. The mid-day blaze was focus to the rear of the structure, but smoke and water damage occurred throughout the house. The insurance company that covered the house balked at the task of repairing the damage. Neighbors worried that the house would be destroyed rather than be restored.
Fortunately, the home that was acquired by Pam Frye, our veteran general contractor that you met earlier this evening! Frye restored the house that was first occupied by Katie and Robert Denny in 1920 by upgrading the mechanicals, kitchens and baths, and repairing all traces of damage. Today, the Denny House is under contract for a new family that will call Historic Aycock their home.
Angela and Tyree Dillard were the first people to call this two-story Colonial Revival home at 1012 North Eugene Street in Fisher Park their home. Tyree Dillard was travelling salesman when the couple moved into the fine frame house with weatherboard siding in 1923. The Colonial Revival-style home features a symmetrical façade centered on a classical stoop that is a classic in Fisher Park.
Shelley Johnson and Bill Norman chose the Dillard House to restore as their own. Six months of construction was needed to reconstruct the kitchen and back porch, and to bring the house into the twenty-first century. Notable features were retained using North Carolina’s Historic Preservation Tax credits, including several the original flip-down windows that open an upstairs bedroom to the fresh air of the outside! The window’s design had been a mystery to Bill and Shelly until a gentleman who grew up in the house demonstrated to them how the units easily slipped below the windowsill into the wall below.
The handsome Methodist Protestant Publishing House at 302-304 South Elm Street was one of several buildings constructed during an economic boom time in Greensboro’s history. “The finishing touches to the new Methodist Protestant publishing house are adding materially to the beauty of that structure” announced the Greensboro Patriot on October 6, 1897. “Workmann Bros’ storeroom on the first floor will be one of the most desirable in the city.” Another early occupant of this neoclassical structure was W.C. Bain, a noted local contractor who built many impressive downtown buildings. The structure may have been designed by J.H. Hopkins, a local architect who used this style in other buildings. The Bain Building features elaborately sculpted terra cotta panels beneath large arched windows on the uppermost level.
The building was acquired in 2013 by City Council member Nancy Hoffmann who restored the building for a mix of uses including apartments on the upper floors and room for the iconic Scuppernong Books on the ground floor. The street level has remained well-preserved and still exhibits its original cast iron columns and glass transom. This much needed reinvestment utilized North Carolina’s Historic Preservation Tax credit program, and has strengthened our tax base and brought more activities to our center city.
William C. Callum was the first occupant of this grand home at 600 Summit in the Aycock neighborhood. Constructed in 1912, its features a Neoclassical Revival façade with a full-height portico of paired Ionic columns, and a pediment that features an unusual demilune window with tracery. The house also sports an unusual corner bay window with curved plate glass, and a one-story wrap around porch supported by Tuscan columns.
The home was occupied until the great recession of 2008, but then abandoned. Preservationists feared that the home could have been lost to neglect. However, veteran Matthew Thomas saw the potential in the building that few others could imagine. He worked to address structural issues, reworked the floor plan, refinished floors and painted walls to bring the grand structure back. With the reinvestment made in this home, the Aycock neighborhood continues its upward trend!
Constructed in 1918, the handsome Dutch Colonial home at 606 Simpson Street in Fisher Park needed a comprehensive makeover when Peggy McGinty purchased the property. Peggy is no stranger to us, she received an award in 2012 from us for restoring a bungalow in the Aycock neighborhood, and we are glad she has come back!
The unusual home with brick first floor and gambrel roofed second floor was first occupied by Mary and Edward Michaels. At the time, Michaels was secretary of the Dixie Fire Insurance Company, whose building remains a landmark in our city at the corner of South Elm and February One Place. With a new kitchen, bathrooms, and a handsome paint job, the house stands proudly among other recently restored homes in an historic corner of Fisher Park.
Preservation Greensboro’s members and guests had the opportunity to recognize three individuals for their volunteer work with the organization. Jon Enos, former Architectural Salvage of Greensboro Co-Chair, received a “Volunteer of the Decade” Award. Enos began volunteering his free time with Architectural Salvage in the 1990s, shortly after ASG was established. He took the position of Co-Chair in 2003, and held the title until December 2014.
The Blandwood Volunteer of the Year was awarded to New Garden Select for their contribution of time and expertise in restoring the grounds of Blandwood and making the National Historic Landmark site the greenest patch of ground in downtown Greensboro.
The 2014 Preservation Greensboro Volunteer of the Year was presented to Anne Daniel. Daniel began volunteering with the organization in the 1980s, and she soon rose to President of the organization, a position she held 1988 and 1989. During her presidency, the organization launched a Capital Campaign entitled “Our Heritage Our Future”. Daniel also served as chair of the Morehead Commission 2001-present. She navigated the Morehead Commission through the transfer of ownership of Blandwood from the Commission to Preservation Greensboro in 2011.