11/14/10 — Historic downtown home burns

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Historic downtown home burns

By Gary Popp
Published in News on November 14, 2010 1:50 AM

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Red Cross disaster agent Durwood Bostic surveys the damage done to the historic Borden Home on Mulberry Street by a Friday night fire.

The cause of a blaze at one of Goldsboro's most historic homes is still under investigation today after a Friday night fire.

The Paul Borden House, 305 W. Mulberry St., is one of several downtown built by the Borden family, and one of the few brick homes in the area.

Built in 1920 and currently owned by a man in Virginia Beach, the home, now partitioned into three apartment units, is one that the Downtown Goldboro Development Corp. has long paid attention to -- just in case it ever came on the market, DGDC executive director Julie Thompson said.

"It was a candidate for restoration," said downtown resident and local historian Charlie Gaylor. "It's one of the homes in the historic district we really needed to have restored because of it's a very nice, well-built, well-designed brick house, and most of our homes in the district are frame. That kind of brick house, built in the early part of the 20th century, is rare. It'd be a real shame to lose one."

Unfortunately, though, Mrs. Thompson said, the risk of fire in the historic homes is something always on the mind of downtown boosters -- whether because of old wiring or because of the risk of squatters in abandoned homes.

"These homes are fragile," she said.

Goldsboro firefighters responded to the blaze about 7 p.m. Friday with 5 fire engines, working in shifts, and 1 ladder equipped fire truck. No injuries were reported, and the cause is still unknown.

Richard Walsh is a tenant in one of the units where the fire did not occur.

Walsh said he was alerted of the fire when two people who were walking by the house saw the fire and knocked on the front door.

"My place is pretty destroyed with water damage," Walsh said.

Walsh said the Fire Department covered some of his belongs with thick blankets.

"The fire department did a great job of protecting my electronics." Walsh said. "And, they wanted to make sure my dog was okay. They put a leash on her and pulled her out of the house."

The damage to the home was estimated at $30,000, and the damage to contents in the home is estimated at $15,000.

The impact to downtown, though, Mrs. Thompson said, will depend on whether or not the house has to be torn down. The DGDC is trying to sell one property on that block.

"It does make it harder to sell the homes if there are a lot of vacant lots around them," she said. "My hope is the owner will invest in it to restore it."