07/23/04 — Goldsboro loses landmark

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Goldsboro loses landmark

By Barbara Arntsen
Published in News on July 23, 2004 1:59 PM

Bricks crumbled into dusty piles Thursday morning on Pine Street as a piece of Goldsboro's history was erased by a wrecking crew.

The black American Legion building at 221 W. Pine St. was a center of activity during World War II, but years of neglect have led to its condemnation.

For years the building has had a place in state history.

Chief Building Inspector Ed Cianfarra did some research on the history of the building before asking the council to condemn it.

The building, he said, was built in 1910, but it may not have been used as an American Legion until the beginning of World War II.

A 1936 Goldsboro City Directory lists a grocery store at that location.

The American Legion building was also used extensively during the Korean War, Cianfarra said.

But despite its fame, the building was beyond being saved, and the council voted several months ago to condemn it.

"It's a shame it couldn't be saved," Cianfarra said. "It's unfortunate that a piece of history that was so important couldn't be maintained."

Unfortunately, it's not the only historical building in Goldsboro that is on its way to being destroyed.

There are 96 properties heading toward possible condemnation by the city, many of them older and historic houses.

The City Council passed an ordinance Monday that should keep historic buildings from being condemned in the future. The "demolition by neglect" zoning amendment provides tougher regulations for property owners in the historic district.

But the newly passed ordinance can't save the buildings that have already deteriorated beyond repair.

One of those houses is the two-story green house on John Street, circa 1897, and designated as the G.A. Norwood House. Though the house is close to the being condemned by the city because of decay, there are still signs of life on the sagging porch.

On a concrete corner of the porch a tiny Confederate flag peeks over a rainbow colored coffee cup. But a big American flag, waving from the other side of the steps, is what catches the eye of a passerby.

A few doors down, there is another historic house with a possible demolition target on it.

Overgrown twin magnolia trees have hidden this house from a street-side view. From John Street, only the small sidewalk stretching between the two trees gives an indication that there's a house behind the greenery. The side of the house is covered with vines and kudzu.

Ten of the 96 deteriorating houses have already been condemned, and 32 are in the city's final phase before condemnation and demolition.

Thirty-one property owners have obtained building permits from the city to start repairs on the neglected houses.

That leaves 23 houses on the city's list of deteriorating houses. If property owners get to work, those houses could be restored and saved from destruction.