07/09/06 — And still not forgetting to preserve city's past

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And still not forgetting to preserve city's past

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on July 9, 2006 2:01 AM

Six years ago when Randy and Jewel Sauls bought their historic home in downtown Goldsboro, the first few weeks of work were daunting.

Their home, which is located in what is known as the Borden block of South George Street, is one of many now that stand both as a testament to historic preservation, and also, to hard work.

The Saulses are part of a group of families who have chosen to live downtown and to save the city's historic homes.

There was much to do in the house when they took it over -- rooms to design and refurbish and adding some modern conveniences, like air conditioning.

But the Sauls say what was important to them when they purchased the house is still true today.

The home is full of reminders that it was built in the 1880s, not the 1980s.

After all, the Victorian-era look is what made them fall in love with the house in the first place. The Sauls family are history buffs. Randy even participates in many Civil War re-enactments around the area. Their home is full of tributes to that part of history as well as items that might have been found in the house during its prime.

"We do have air conditioning, but the old timey charm is what we're going for," Mrs. Sauls said.

Inside renovations are a continuing project, although much of the work has already been done, the couple say.

Just recently they tackled another task -- heavy bushes that encircled the house.

"We obliterated a jungle. We probably affected the eco-system," Mrs. Sauls said. "A hedge had grown up all around the house. Mrs. Borden wanted her privacy."

They are still tearing down the old landscaping and soon, Mrs. Sauls said they hope to put back the plants and flowers that might have been there in the Victorian era.

When they are finished, they will have a home that could have been on a Goldsboro city street in the 1880s.

And keeping that flavor is their goal.

Not far from the Borden Block is the Bizzell House on the corner of John and Mulberry streets. This house was built in 1850 and was up for demolition when Kerry Johnson bought it. He acquired the house through Preservation North Carolina, which had stabilized the structure and marketed the house.

His efforts and those of others like him are helping save houses that once were the jewels of downtown Goldsboro.

"Kerry has a love for old properties," said Charles Ellis, chairman of the Historic District Commission.

The city of Goldsboro created the commission years ago at the request of the Wayne County Historical Commission.

Ellis said the commission might be able to help the city save historic buildings caught in the condemnation process.

Three letters go out to the property owners during the process of condemnation, and Ellis said copies of those letters should also go to the commission when the houses in question are inside the Historic District.

Receiving copies of those letters might allow the Wayne County Historic Association and the Downtown Goldsboro Development Commission to intercede or to match a potential renovator with an historic home, Ellis said.

"We have a number of people in Goldsboro who are interested in history and preservation," he said.