05/03/04 — Community Building has rich history

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Community Building has rich history

By Karinne Young
Published in News on May 3, 2004 1:58 PM

The Wayne County Memorial Community Building has been a fixture in Goldsboro for almost 80 years.

On June 8, 1923, Capt. Nathan O'Berry won the support of "50 interested men and women'' of the Goldsboro community for a memorial building to commemorate those who died in World War I.

That meeting, held by the Chamber of Commerce, began a fund-raising campaign that resulted in the construction of the Wayne County Memorial Community Building on the corner of William Street and Walnut Street. It opened in 1925.

Hailed as the first of its kind in the nation, the architecture followed the Colonial Revival style with a wide portico, square columns and a cupola-crowned roof.

The project was described by the Goldsboro News as "a new and proud epoch in the history of our county."

The newspaper continued by urging those who pledged financial support to make good on their promises.

A large ceremony was held when the cornerstone was laid on Feb. 23, 1924, following a stirring march by the Independent Order of Odd Fellows' Orphans Home Band.

Among the dignitaries attending were Col. John R. Quinn, national commander, and Col. Wiley C. Rodman, state commander of the American Legion.

The afternoon event was presided over by Lionel Weil, chairman of the board of directors of the Community Building and Dr. Zeno Wall.

A dinner followed in the Kennon Hotel.

Besides commemorating those who died defending freedom in World War I, it was envisioned that the building would be used as the headquarters of the American Legion, the Red Cross, the Boy Scouts and the Charity Organizational Society.

Over the years it has served as a meeting place for many functions and as headquarters for the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, the Boys Club, Red Cross and United Way.

The curb market, the forerunner of the Farmers Market, was held weekly in the community building gym.

It was also the headquarters for the Goldsboro Recreation and Parks Department from the late 1950s to the mid-1970s.

The day-to-day maintenance and upkeep of the building was at first shared by the county and city.

Later, during a period when the two bodies decided to divvy up financial responsibilities, the city took over the operational costs while the county agreed to fund such things as Social Services. The county agreed, however, to contribute a portion of the cost of any big-ticket expenses.

The building caught on fire in November 2001, and it reopened four days later. An insurance adjuster had estimated damage from that fire to be between $38,000 and $50,000.