Greensboro, once considered a bastion of new construction and sprawl, has emerged as North Carolina’s Preservation City. A diversity of preservation projects are currently underway or planned in every quarter of the city, representing more than $200 million of private investment in Greensboro. Seven of the projects, including the largest, leverage state and federal historic preservation tax credits through oversight by the North Carolina State Historic Preservation Office and the National Park Service. Historic preservation is alive and well in North Carolina’s Gate City. Here is a rundown of our city’s most interesting projects!
The Guilford County Courthouse
Our county courthouse will celebrate its 100th year in 2018 with completion of a major restoration project. The Neoclassical-style courthouse was designed by a committee of architects chaired by Harry Barton of Greensboro. The basement and primary floors of the building are walled in Mount Airy Granite, with upper floors including the cornice and balustrade sheathed in terra cotta tiles made to resemble granite. The Commissioners’ Meeting Room located on the second floor features Neoclassical detail articulated in hand-crafted quarter-sawn oak. The building was recognized to the National Register in 1979.
The scope of the $3,500,000 restoration led by Brevard architect Ellen Pratt and Greensboro contractor J. Wayne Poole includes restoration of granite walls and steps, repairs to the terra cotta façade, clean and painting of original cast iron louvers, replacement of the membrane roofing and flashing, replacement of the standing seam copper roof, replacement of doors with wood doors and transoms with decorative metal grilles and new hardware, and new custom replicated light fixtures. This project represents the greatest investment in the iconic building in 25 years.
The Jefferson Standard Building
When completed in 1923, the Jefferson Standard office building was the highest building between Washington and Atlanta. The skyscraper cost $2.5 million, paid in cash by the corporation. Upon completion, the insurance company occupied only five floors in the tower, and the rest was leased to doctors, dentists, lawyers, insurance agents, and contractors. The eclectic architectural theme of the tower leans on Beaux-Arts design, but blends Baroque details such as rounded arches and Solomonic columns.
Based in Philadelphia, Lincoln Financial Group has begun a $33 million project to restore and refurbish the building, listed to the National Register in 1975. It currently houses some of the 1,600 employees in downtown Greensboro. General contractor Frank L. Blum Construction Company began work last year to completely replacing infrastructure — HVAC systems, electrical and plumbing. Mezzanine level offices were reconfigured for an expansive conference center of gathering areas and classroom space. The project includes a computer training room, with a catering kitchen, large multipurpose rooms and classrooms. Windows are being replaced in accordance with the National Park Service in keeping with use of National Register tax credits.
The Revolution Mill
Self-Help Ventures Fund has embarked on a $100 million project to renovate and restore the massive Revolution Mill complex in northeastern Greensboro. Upon completion, the project is anticipated to house about 100 businesses, more than 140 apartments, artist studios, and 240,000 of office space in addition to several dining options. Few buildings are as central to the development of modern Greensboro as the Revolution Cotton Mill on Yanceyville Street in the northeastern part of the city. The complex demonstrates the city’s role as a major industrial center of the American South. Its owners thought the manufacture of flannel in the South would be a revelation – but out of concern the use of a Biblical name might be offensive, they chose the name Revolution, instead. Cone Mills operated the Mill from 1896 until 1982, during which time it employed thousands of textile workers. The complex was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984 based on its associations with early textile development, associations with the Cone and Sternberger families, and its distinctive industrial construction techniques, including the “slow-burning construction” standards.
Belk Architects of Durham is the project designer for this historic preservation tax credit project. Belk has a wide following among industrial architects along the east coast for his artful and innovative approach to rehabilitation. C.T. Wilson of Durham and Weaver Cooke of Greensboro are the general contractors for the reconstruction of the 520,000-square-foot mill. The project is expected to create 1,200 jobs during the next 18 months. Earlier this year, the Revolution Mill Apartments and the Natty Greene’s Kitchen + Market opened as components of the complex.
The Proximity Printworks
The Alexander Company of Madison Wisconsin has assembled a preservation team for a $58 million, multi-use project to rehabilitate the Proximity Print Works. Located at 1700 Fairview Street in the northeastern part of the city, Proximity Print Works represents the first textile printery in the South and demonstrated that southern mills could complete with sophisticated tasks of printing cloth. The printery began in 1913, when Moses and Ceasar Cone’s Proximity Manufacturing Company, purchased an existing mill for their use. The campus was expanded several times through 1964 and produced finished printed fabric for the Cone textile empire.
The campus will include 217 apartments scattered among five buildings, as well as 9,000 square feet for a restaurant and a retailer and an 80,000-square-foot, climate-controlled storage business. Construction is expected to begin in the fourth quarter of this year with completion scheduled for the second quarter in 2019. Preservation team members include Rehab Builders of Winston-Salem as general contractor, Plageman Architecture of Burlington, Borum, Wade and Associates of Greensboro as engineers, and ECS of Greensboro for environmental issues. Interestingly, the project will include 154 interior parking spaces in addition to traditional outdoor parking, as well as an outdoor swimming pool, club room, fitness center, tenant storage, bicycle storage and exterior courtyards. The complex was listed to the National Register of Historic Places in 2014, enabling the use of historic preservation tax credits in its restoration.
The historic Tynes House, located at 1006 Yanceyville Street in the Dunleath neighborhood, has been acquired by New South Associates, a cultural resources consultation firm based in Atlanta, GA. The building was formerly owned and occupied by the Children’s Home Society, but had fallen into a state of disrepair before being purchased by New South in 2016. The Tynes House was constructed in 1910 and had a Percy Street address prior to the construction of Yanceyville Street. It is located in the Dunleath neighborhood and is part of the locally designated historic district, but is just outside the Summit Avenue National Register Historic District, making it ineligible for historic tax credits.
Interior renovations, including wallpaper removal, carpet removal, floor refinishing, and new paint were completed in June. New HVAC systems for the first and second floors were added in July and August. The entire front porch needed to be reconstructed because of severe deterioration. Work is ongoing, with a projected completion date of late September. Pam Frye is the general contractor handling the exterior repairs. The company plans to have an open house for the neighborhood and anyone interested in preservation later this fall.
Hillside/Julian Price House
One of Greensboro’s most intriguing properties is receiving much needed tender loving care. The home of Ethel and Julian Price, known as Hillside, stands in on a prominent site overlooking the Fisher Park. Constructed in 1929 by founder and president of Jefferson Life Insurance Company Julian Price, the sprawling residence is an example of Period Revival architecture by architect Charles C Hartmann. Julian Price was a patron of architecture, and in 1919, he offered Hartmann the job of designing the corporate tower for Jefferson Standard Insurance if he’d move his practice to Greensboro. Hartmann accepted the offer and spent the rest of his life in Greensboro designing notable buildings throughout North Carolina, including Hillside. The house was designed to evoke a rambling English Tudor home, complete with rough stucco, herringbone brick, wall dormers, and a stair tower.
The house fell into disrepair over the past 20 years, hitting a low point in 2016 when it was showcased on A&E Television’s “Hoarders” as a two-hour season finale. Through foreclosure proceedings, Hillside was acquired by Eric and Michael Fuko-Rizzo who plan to make the house their home. Upon completion of a comprehensive restoration process approved through the Guilford Historic Preservation Commission, the Landmark property will be opened to the public as a Designer Show House in April 2018.
Olde Greensborough Gateway Center
Developer Andy Zimmerman is continuing to add to his downtown Greensboro portfolio, with the Old Greensborough Gateway Center now under his ownership. The historic building at 620 S. Elm St. opened in 1919 as the home of the Blue Bell Overall Co. Under the ownership of C. C. Hudson, the company expanded when it was purchased in 1926 by Big Ben manufacturing of Jellico, Tennessee, consolidating headquarters in Greensboro under the Blue Bell name. Blue Bell ultimately became the nation’s second-largest producer of jeans. In 1986 it merged with VF Corporation, which then moved its headquarters from Pennsylvania to Greensboro.
The plant was adaptively renovated for office use in the 1980s, but interior spaces were carved into smaller offices accessed off a main, central corridor. Many of the windows on the ground and second levels were bricked over. The three-story, L-shaped structure contains 106,000 square feet used for smaller businesses and entrepreneurs. Plans include opening windows to admit natural light, re-establishing vast interior spaces, and opening retail space along South Elm Street, all within adherence to National Park Service historic standards.
The Lyon House
Located at 634 North Elm Street in the Fisher Park neighborhood, the Lyon House was completed in 1912 for Edward Lyon and his wife Minnie. Lyon was a mining engineer who consulted on various copper, silver, and coal mines here in North Carolina. The house is inspired from the classical architecture of the Colonial Period, featuring a central gable topped with demilune window. The formal architecture of the house was to evoke tradition and prestige, both important qualities during the Edwardian era of history. The Lyons sold the property to the Dorsett family in 1915 and it remained with them until 1938. At that time it was heavily remodeled with interior and exterior changes. The house stood in a severely deteriorated condition for the past 20 years before being sold to Michael and Eric Fuko-Rizzo. The couple initiated a complete restoration that invested more than a quarter of a million dollars in the property over the course of the past year. Once derelict and deteriorating, the high-profile house in the heart of the historic district will soon be returned to its impressive appearance.
The Mock, Judson, Voehringer Company Hosiery Mill
Located at 2610 Oakland Street between the Southern Railway tracks and the Lindley Park neighborhood is an exciting adaptive reuse project that plans to convert the National Register listed Mock, Judson. Voehringer mill to residential use. The property was listed to the National Register in March 2011, making it eligible for historic preservation tax credits administered through the National Park Service in Washington, DC. The project architect, Mark Spangenberg of Durham-based Belk Architecture, has experience working on numerous tax credit projects. This will be the second project for Belk Architects in Greensboro.
Built in 1926 by partners Bernard Mock, Nathaniel Judson, and John K. Voehringer, the reinforced concrete mill originally encompassed just 23,000 square feet of space. Additions to the mill in 1930, 1936, and 1938 expanded the complex to 150,000 square feet. The additions and Art Deco-style storefront were designed by Charles C. Hartmann of Greensboro. The adaptive reuse project will consist of a variety of one-, two-, and three-bedroom units. The general contractor is being considered for a consortium of investors represented by Kirk Carrison of Hillsborough NC.
The Cascade Saloon
The Cascade Saloon was constructed in 1895 on South Elm Street between the North Carolina Railroad tracks to the north, and the Cape Fear and Yadkin Valley Railway to the south. The building is part of a family of Elm Street buildings that include Mount Airy Granite window sills and lintels, use of patterned brickwork, and elaborate cornices. The structure has housed numerous establishments, including Wiley Weaver’s “eating house”. Weaver operated the café at a time when Jim Crow Laws sought to segregate African-Americans away from white-owned businesses. The fact that the Weavers ran their business on Greensboro’s main commercial street is an unusual footnote in Greensboro’s history. The building remained derelict for 40 years despite the designation of the site as a Guilford County Landmark.
In recognition of its history and to address public safety concerns related to the deterioration of the structure, the building was transferred to the Preservation Greensboro Development Fund in 2016. A plan was developed in coordination with The Christman Company of Lansing, Michigan for a $3.5 million adaptive reuse project. Other partners include the Marion Stedman Covington Foundation, the City of Greensboro, First Citizens Bank, Downtown Greensboro, Inc., and the Preservation Greensboro Development Fund. An anonymous donor contributed $250,000 to the initiative to cover a funding gap. The Christman Company is a fully management-owned general contractor that is nationally recognized for its work in historic preservation. It will locate its North Carolina division in the structure. Video documentarian Michael Frierson is currently working on a documentary of the site. Work will conclude around the end of 2017 on the tax credit project.