11/12/06 — Couple tackling renovation of one of city's historic homes

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Couple tackling renovation of one of city's historic homes

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on November 12, 2006 2:01 AM

Richard and Linda Mechling have been restoring historic homes for years now.

From neighborhoods in Atlanta, Wilmington and now Goldsboro, each project is something special, they said.

"We're kind of getting the hang of it," Richard said. "And addicted to it."

Sitting on the 400 block of William Street, the couple's most recent acquisition was once the home of North Carolina Gov. Charles B. Aycock.

"I enjoy grand old houses like this one," Richard said.

The couple were drawn to Goldsboro's historic district after visiting the Preservation N.C. Web site. They were searching for their "next project," Linda said.

"We were almost finished with our house in Wilmington, and Goldsboro has a nice downtown," she said.

"We can really see it coming back," Richard added.

And as they cleared debris and waste from inside their decade-old home Thursday, they could sense their piece of Goldsboro's comeback breaking through, too.

"(Linda) likes going into homes that aren't yet finished," Richard said. "That's part of the fun in it."

It is during those searches that Linda finds hidden treasures like a railing with large spindles left to rot, grand staircases and large, swinging doors.

"These features are the ones that show it was a grand home in the past," Richard said. "You look for something grand enough with features behind the debris."

They hope the project will move forward without many hitches. Still, when they look into the past -- and future -- they really see all the home might be.

"It may take a few years," Linda said. "If you can just visualize it."

So, they will hand-strip all the wood. They will hit flea markets, yard sales and Ebay for missing pieces.

Patience pays, they said.

"If you rush, you don't find what fits," Richard said.

He anticipates completion in about four years, he said. By then, the home should look much the same as it did when Governor Aycock roamed the halls.

"As close as we can," Linda said. "That's usually our goal."

And they hope -- and believe -- that others across the county, state and country will take a chance on Goldsboro's historic district, too. After all, from what they have seen, it's a good investment.

"In a lot of ways, I think (Goldsboro) is way ahead of some of the big, disorganized cities we've lived in," Richard said. "They do a nice job requiring good restoration."