05/03/04 — Residents react to loss of Community Building

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Residents react to loss of Community Building

By Sam Atkins
Published in News on May 3, 2004 1:58 PM

Many people in Wayne County have fond memories of the Wayne County Memorial Community Building and were saddened by the fire that destroyed the inside and the roof.

Hilda Strider's father, O.C. Liles, was the building's superintendent from 1925 to 1956 before passing away in October 1958. His portrait was on the left wall upon entering the building. She has many memories of the building while she was growing up in Goldsboro.

She was on the Goldsboro High School swim team that would practice there. The team had two national champions -- Prince Nufer and Buddy Crone. She remembers taking swimming lessons along with her two sisters, Meredith Liles and Horty Rouse. Their nephew, David Liles Jr., also took lessons there.

Ms. Strider still sees people around town who recall when her father worked in the ticket booth during high school basketball games at the building, and he would let people in even if they did not have the money to pay for a ticket.

She also had an old convertible, and her dad would ride in the back of it with a large banner with the community building's name on it. She also remembers the curb market that used to meet on Wednesdays and Fridays at the building.

Charlie Gaylor, a lawyer in Goldsboro, also remembers going to the building as a child and said it was always a place you could rent out for parties. He also took swimming lessons there every summer as a child.

His office is in the second building behind the community building and he said he would like to commend the Goldsboro Fire Department for containing the fire, which was coming toward his building.

He hopes that it can be built back from within. It is a piece of history for the community and has many plaques, memorials and pictures inside, he said. He walks out of the Wayne County Courthouse daily and always looks at the building and remembers what it means to the county.

"It is a big loss," he said.

Troy Pate also remembers going to the building as a teen. He said that while attending high school, he worked there in various capacities, including running the soda and snack bar, teaching swimming lessons and playing music for military dances. He later worked with the Boys Club while attending college.

Pate said that during World War II, those stationed at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base could get a room there for 50 cents a night. There was a dorm upstairs with double-decker bunks, and the building was remodeled during the war to help with survival training in the pool area.

He said he hopes that the plaques with the names of those who died in battle survived the fire and that they can be placed in the Wayne County Museum nearby.

"It's just very sad; we have seen the passing of an era," added Pate.

Julie Thompson, director of the Downtown Goldsboro Development Corp., said the building was unique because it was open to everyone.

"It will be a sad, vacant space for some time," she said.

She helped in a recent grant application for a new heating and air system estimated to cost $107,000. It was turned down, but the building did receive $10,000 from Progress Energy and $5,000 from N.C. Natural Gas to put toward the project. The building was operated by a boiler system that was installed in the 1925.