South Elm Street/ Old Greensborough Historic District
Threat: Demolition and Overscaled Redevelopment
Considered by some architectural historians to be the best preserved big-city downtown in North Carolina, South Elm Street could fall victim of its own success. The street contains a parade of authentic and historic buildings that chronicle the development of Greensboro, ranging from the 1883 Vernon Building (likely the street’s oldest) to Greensboro’s earliest skyscrapers, banks, and downtown’s signature railroad crossing. South Elm Street was recognized by the Secretary of Interior as a National Register Historic District in 1982, but designation only offers incentives to save buildings and does not monitor new construction or alterations. For example, no ordinance is in place to prevent an out-of-town developer from buying several historic storefronts along South Elm Street and replace them with a parking deck and tower. New development could irreversibly alter Old Greensbough’s character, the central element that is most popular with downtown visitors. A city-appointed committee is currently exploring the feasibility of standards for downtown Greensboro that could guide future development in a planned fashion.
The Albright House
Threat: Neglect and Demolition
West Friendly Avenue a Green Valley Road across from Belk’s at Friendly Center
One of the oldest residences in the city, the two-story frame residence features a notable two-story portico that includes tall columns; among the earliest Neoclassical features in Guilford County. Likely built in the third quarter of the nineteenth century, the Albright House has survived an earthquake, storms, and a Great Depression, but commercial growth in Greensboro is its greatest threat to its survival today. The Albright House stands along a busy city thoroughfare across from a rapidly expanding commercial center, but careful planning and consideration may save this important site. If the building can relocated to another site and restored for use as a office space, it may get a new lease on life for the twenty-first century.
War Memorial Stadium
When the World War Memorial Stadium was dedicated in 1926 it became the first major memorial in North Carolina dedicated to those who made the supreme sacrifice in the World War; and it placed in service a building which has remained central in the civic and athletic life of the city to the present. Built as a memorial to those who gave their lives in World War I, the stadium embodies our city’s unique character, personality, and history. Though a recent bond referendum was voted down on November 7th, civic leaders have long voiced support for the stadium as a place for amateur athletics. The stadium faces an uphill battle to secure funding for necessary upgrades and refurbishment, but allowing this public facility to continue to deteriorate can not be an option. The public and private sectors may need to pool resources to collectively assure this landmark’s future as modeled by the new First Horizon Park, but in the end, a memorial to those who gave the ultimate sacrifice is preserved for the enjoyment of future generations.