03/14/11 — DGDC rehabs presumed Charles B. Aycock law office

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DGDC rehabs presumed Charles B. Aycock law office

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on March 14, 2011 1:46 PM

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John Banks works to restore the exterior of a building downtown officials believe to be Gov. Charles B. Aycock's original law office.

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The 15-by-20-foot building, believed to have been built in the mid-1800s, is currently being restored along Center Street -- thanks to members of the Downtown Goldsboro Development Corp.

It might have been lost forever -- a 15-by-20-foot "eyesore" located behind the house located at 403 S. William St.

But when members of the Downtown Goldsboro Development Corp. began to research the simple structure, they became determined to save it from demolition.

So they asked the city's Historic District Commission to put a stay on the building -- to give them more time to confirm what they believed from first sight -- that this was far more than just an aging collection of wood and paint.

And when their investigation lead them to a map more than a century old, they took action.

"A very similar structure with the same footprint was behind Charles B. Aycock's original house," Downtown Goldsboro Development Corp. executive director Julie Thompson said. "And now, we are 99 percent sure this was Gov. Aycock's original law office."

That simple building has since been moved to Center Street -- thanks, mostly, to Mrs. Thompson's pursuit of grant funding from the Wachovia-Wells Fargo Foundation -- and its exterior is in the process of being restored.

"So it doesn't look like an eyesore," Mrs. Thompson quipped. "Actually, they've already found some windows -- the original windows -- and it's really cool."

And once the restoration is complete, DGDC officials plan to turn it over to the private sector for use downtown.

That, or keep it for themselves.

But much like Aycock, himself, downtown officials' latest undertaking has brought with it some controversy.

"People are either really excited that we're saving it or they're like, 'What the hell are you doing?'" Mrs. Thompson said.

She doesn't seem to mind.

"Either way, we're happy," Mrs. Thompson said. "It really is a neat project."

Aycock, who was born in Wayne County and came home to practice law after graduating from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, was known as the "Education Governor" and led the state from 1901 to 1905.