Members and friends of Preservation Greensboro gathered last night at The Public at Morehead Foundry for the organization’s 51st Annual Meeting. More than 200 attendees heard keynote speaker Ron Staley, a Senior Vice President with The Christman Company who leads the company’s southeast Michigan Operations as well as the role of Director of Historic Preservation. With over 30 years of construction experience, he provided insights and perspectives on preservation projects ranging from a five-hundred-year-old church in Poland to the Henry Ford Estate and Ernest Hemingway farm in Cuba named Finca Vigia. “Don’t let anyone tell you a building cannot be restored,” Staley said “if you have the right team in place you can accomplish great things.”
Staley’s words were proven accurate as attendees saw eight preservation projects completed in the past year that were recognized by Preservation Greensboro with awards. Award recipients have turned some of our most challenging properties into our most treasured places. Greensboro has benefited from preservation projects across the city, and Preservation Greensboro continues our charge of encouraging reinvestment in our community’s history and character.
When Leftwich Street was platted in 1913, the house at number 206 was among the earliest to be constructed, likely as an income property for Henrietta and Herbert Cartland. It’s first occupants were lawyer Alfred S. Wyllie and telephone operator William T Corbin. The two-story bungalow features classic elements of Craftsman design, including a deep front porch, wide overhanging eaves, and twelve-over-one windows. Sisters Ashley and Hillary Meredith became the most recent owners of the home in 2007. Tragically, the home caught fire on New Year’s Eve 2015. Thankfully no one was hurt but the home was nearly lost. Ashley and Hillary set about restoring their home with the help of general contractor Pam Frye. Pam is no stranger to these preservation awards – her projects have received a great deal of recognition over the past few years. Working with the Greensboro Preservation Commission, the team began to reconstruct the house as a modern dwelling with an open floor plan with updated conveniences. Today the the Wyllie – Corbin House offers no hint of the fire and stands among the close knit Leftwich street-scape.
Greensboro has a growing national reputation for its inventory of kit houses, specifically Aladdin Homes. Many Aladdin kit houses were built along West Bessemer Avenue and Virginia Street by developer J. E. Latham around 1916 to 1925 as his “Fisher Park Extended” subdivision. Constructed at 404 West Bessemer Avenue around 1920, the “The Shadow Lawn” was a popular Aladdin plan that sports a distinctive Craftsman design. Its description suggests: The Shadow Lawn eaves project four feet, rather a Swiss idea, and are supported by well-proportioned brackets.” The first occupants were likely Kate and Jesse Keith. Although the house was never neglected or damaged by fire, it needed modern conveniences and upgrades. The house captured the eye of Michael and Eric Fuko-Rizzo, who stated “we saw a home with incredible potential masked by years of neglect, worn out over decades of tenants renting without the desire for upkeep.” The pair completed a comprehensive restoration of the Keith House, including a dazzling new kitchen and breakfast nook, tiled bathrooms, preserved hardwood floors, original wavy glass windows, and a landscaped yard that highlights the milk-quartz stone foundation.
Bessie and Oscar Melvin likely moved into this two story farmhouse around 1905. When the home built it was considered “beyond the city limits” along Asheboro Street, now located at 1603 Martin Luther King Jr Drive. The Melvin family received notoriety in 1913 when President Woodrow Wilson paid a visit to Greensboro, on which occasion the Melvins named their newborn son Woodrow Wilson Melvin! In return, the office of the president delivered a letter to the family stating “The president has learned with genuine appreciation of the compliment which you and Mrs. Melvin have paid him in the naming of your baby and he asks me to thank you warmly. He sent his best wishes for the long life and happiness of the little man.” Woodrow Wilson Melvin’s older brother was Joe Melvin, the father of Greensboro’s former mayor Jim Melvin. The Melvin House was used as income property and was eventually abandoned until it was acquired in 2016 by Matt Thomas of the Edge Water Group Inc. With oversight from project manager Dustin Chandler, the house received structural repairs, all new systems, restored hardwood floors, a new kitchen, bathrooms, restored windows, and a lot of fresh paint! Today the National Register listed Melvin House stands in great condition for a new generation!
In March of 1897, The Greensboro Patriot reported that “Dr. P. L. Groome contemplates the erection of a handsome building on the corner of South Elm and Lewis streets. The lowest floor will contain two store rooms and the upper floors will be arranged in flats. Brownstone will be used for the front.” The structure, located at 534 and 536 South Elm Streets, was among the earliest located south of the railroad tracks, and is part of a family of brick structures with granite trim that compose a “Greensboro School” of design that includes Natty Greene’s, the Cascade Saloon, and many other storefronts. By 2015, the Groome Building was in need of a major restoration. New owner Andy Stern worked with the team at D. H. Griffin Construction to leverage Historic Tax Credits through the building’s placement on the National Register. The result is a modern structure with authentic touchstones to the past such as early hardwood floors, windows, and high ceilings that is home to Downtown Greensboro and several other entities.
In 1926, when Annie Betty and Marvin Griffith moved into their new Craftsman bungalow at 2415 Springwood Drive, they enjoyed country living on a large parcel in the city of Greensboro. Marvin worked as an auto mechanic for the Guilford Motor Company until the couple apparently lost their home in 1930 and moved to High Point. The house remained the sole structure on the block until after World War II. By the time Laurie Lanier and Leslie and Mike Stainback took on the task of restoring the house by re-opening covered windows, removing layers of old carpeting to reveal hardwood floors, and installing a new kitchen and bathrooms. The front porch was even graced by columns selected from our own Architectural Salvage! Today it is part of the renewal in the Lindley Park neighborhood as the home of Catherine Butler and Sarah Downey. Another great Greensboro bungalow has been restored thanks to Laurie, Leslie, and Mike. They are here tonight, please stand to be recognized for your great project!
Of the notable mill complexes that stand in northeastern Greensboro, Revolution Mill has the distinction of being the first modern flannel mill in the American South. By the 1930s, the mill had become the largest exclusive flannel producer in the world. Most of the buildings related to the Revolution Mill complex were erected in three major periods of expansion. The first period began in 1900, the second period in 1904, and the final stage dates from 1915. The construction methods and floor plans of the mill are typical of textile plants built during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries: built with safety and efficiency in mind. Large floor plates allowed for massive machinery while large windows allowed natural light for task work. The Cloth Section of the Revolution Mill was completed in 1915 for storage and shipping. Operations ceased in 1982. Picking up on earlier restoration efforts, Self Help Credit Union acquired the mill located at 1200 Revolution Mill Drive in 2012 and began a concerted effort to restore the structure as a mixed use project using Historic Tax credits under the direction of architect Eddy Belk. For those here who might not know Eddie, he has a regional reputation for designing dynamic spaces that celebrate industrial history. Last year, the property was approved for recognition as the 100th Guilford County Landmark property.
This charming Georgian Revival house with a brilliant green Ludowici tile roof at 106 Arden Place in Sunset Hills was likely constructed for Jennie Lu and Guy Laughon, who acquired the site in 1928. The couple seems to have lost the house in the Great Depression, and the house passed through ownership of Reba and Benjamin Marks and Otto Zenke before being purchased around 1969 by D. W. Hanson. Hanson is their American name, but their Chinese names were Der Jin Wing and Lee Miee Sing Wing. Mrs. Hanson loved the house greatly, and she lived to the remarkable age of 101. Upon her death in 2014 the family agreed to sell the house to nearby neighbors Larry Richardson and Clark Gooding who sought a complete and careful restoration. The house received new mechanical systems, a walk-up attic, two new bathrooms, kitchen, a master bedroom suite with walk-in closets. Historic features of the Laughon – Marks House were retained, including the hardwood floors, original divided light windows, the tiled veranda, and even the Ludowici tile roof! Work was done carefully so that new work blended with the old and today the house is a wonderful example of the Sunset Hills revival.
A wrap-around porch and oversized dormer window are hallmark features of this classic American Foursquare located at 114 Fisher Park Circle. Unusual features include the diamond pane windows, the circular window in the front façade, and the Mt Airy granite foundation. In July 1913, the Greensboro Daily News reported “Dr. Tony A. Walters, who recently located here for the practice of dentistry, and who is doing so well in his profession, has begun the erection of a new nine-room dwelling on North Park drive, opposite Mr. Broadhurst’s residence. Since Dr. Walters has “passed up” baseball he has become one of the most efficient dentists in the business. He is quite as fine a dentist as he was a ball pitcher, and all remember Tony Walters as the “headiest” pitcher Greensboro ever numbered on its team.” The home was never in derelict condition, but it was in need of an update. In 2015 it was purchased by Greensboro native Katherine Robison Davey, who set about restoring the house and incorporating modern conveniences. New Age Builders oversaw construction and brought the project to completion in the past few months with updated mechanicals and kitchen.
These eight projects represent confidence in Greensboro’s future and a massive private reinvestment in Greensboro’s tax base.
Additional awards were presented to recognize key volunteers. The ASG Volunteer of the Year was awarded to Jim Reese who is always handy with power tools. The Blandwood Volunteer of the Year recognized the contributions made by Becky Maust in the Blandwood gardens, and Alison MacCord was awarded the Preservation Greensboro Volunteer for the time she has given the organization since first joining in 1990.