Through an unprecedented public-private partnership in preservation, a pair of historic houses in downtown Greensboro might avoid destruction and find suitable new homes that will enrich two of Greensboro’s most historic neighborhoods. The joint effort of the City of Greensboro (Department of Housing & Community Development); the Preservation Greensboro Development Fund, Inc.; Greensboro College; the College Hill Neighborhood Association; and Mr. Mahlon Honeycutt could result in the relocation of the houses on Blandwood Avenue that stand in the way of the expansion of the County Jail. The house at 208-210 Blandwood is a two-story brick duplex constructed around 1915; the structure at 212 Blandwood is a two-story Victorian-Era shotgun-style home (both featured in image, below). Both are presently owned by the Zenke family.
Funding has been secured to move the houses through private and public sources. Earlier this week, the Greensboro City Council, approved $225,942 for Greensboro College to move the substantial brick duplex to a vacant lot at 814 Rankin Place in the College Hill Neighborhood. In addition, last month $170,000 was approved by the Greensboro Redevelopment Commission, of which $101,914 will be used by Mr. Honeycutt to relocate the house at 222 Blandwood Avenue to a vacant lot at 408 N. Cedar Street in the Bellemeade Neighborhood, and the remainder will be used for the move of the duplex. The public funding will be matched by private funds that will rehabilitate both houses for continued use.
The relocation and protection of both historic houses will benefit the community in numerous ways. The brick duplex will fill a substantial hole in the College Hill Neighborhood’s streetscape on Rankin Place, in keeping with the neighborhood’s original plan adopted more than 30 years ago. The frame Victorian will add to the valuable inventory of historic housing on N. Cedar Street, consistent with the strategic plan adopted in 2005 by Greensboro’s City Council for the Bellemeade neighborhood. Both houses will maintain Greensboro’s rich inventory of historic homes.
On another level, this project represents an example of historic preservation’s role in sustainable building practices. Not only will the project keep the demolition debris from the structures from our city landfill, but the quality and craftsmanship of the materials in these century-old houses will be maintained and reused in their new locations.
Many regulatory hurdles relating to the moves have been overcome. The relocation to Cedar Street now has a green light to move forward. The relocation to Rankin Place has already been the subject of several favorable hearings, and it will go before the Zoning Commission next week.
The terms for the transfer of the houses have been outlined with the Zenke family, the current owners of the historic buildings. The Zenkes will transfer both of the houses to Preservation Greensboro Development Fund, Inc. (“PGDF”), a non-profit corporation with 501(c)(3) status from the United State Internal Revenue Status. PGDF in turn will convey the brick duplex to Greensboro College, and the frame Victorian house to Mr. Honeycutt under terms that place preservation easements on the relocated houses and require the rehabilitation of the houses in their new locations. These arrangements will ensure that the historic character of the relocated houses is maintained in perpetuity and that the houses will complement the “fabric” of the neighborhoods they will be relocated to.
In the current economic environment, creative public-private partnerships are a smart way to preserve our history and our environment. With further cooperation from city and county government, this impressive project will come to fruition, and Greensboro will have a great model in place for future projects.