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SALVAGING WHAT’S LEFT

New development displaces Architectural Salvage

 whitney@yesweekly.com

The planned destruction of a historic building at 300 Bellemeade St. in downtown Greensboro is about to displace the current tenants in order to make way for a new $50 million mixed-used project.

Architectural Salvage Greensboro (ASG) is a program of Preservation Greensboro Incorporated (PGI) that recovers materials from historic homes that are about to be demolished and has rented the building since 1998.

The property was purchased by the Carroll Fund, an entity of Carroll Companies, owned by Roy Carroll. Carroll is the developer behind major projects in Greensboro that include Centerpointe on Elm St., Hayleigh Village, Innisbrook and the Shops at Brittway.

Carroll has already purchased the Dixie Apartments, which were originally built in the 1880s and were planned to be used as low-rent housing for the elderly. Tenants of the Dixie Apartments were sent eviction notices in March The property at 300 Bellemeade St. dates back to the 1920s is currently owned by Thomas Larose and has been in the Larose family since 1974. Larose founded Colonial Tin Works, a store that designs farmhouse style home goods, often using recycled material, over 30 years ago. Larose currently holds the deed for five other properties in the 300 block of Bellemeade Street that are also likely to be acquired by Carroll in the near future.

Carroll plans to raze all of the properties he has acquired on the Bellemeade block for the mixed-use development project. The project will be adjacent to the 100-room boutique hotel that Carroll is planning for the 400 Block of N. Eugene St. Benjamin Briggs is the Executive director of PGI and is disap pointed that the property at 300 Bellemeade St. will be torn down. “It’s one of a small number of early automobile-oriented buildings in Greensboro,” said Briggs. The sturdy concrete and steel building features exterior Tudor details that PGI had hoped to accentuate with a new paint job this summer.

The building’s interior features terracotta floors downstairs, tongue and grove flooring upstairs and large front-facing windows with a view of the iconic Jefferson Standard Building.

Candy colored sinks, fixtures, and tiles are displayed around the showroom similarly to the home goods section of an Anthropologie. The light flooding in from the windows and the artful organization of the materials gives the space a sophisticated feel for a vintage store.

When a developer is about to demolish a historic home, they can contact ASG about extracting materials from the home that can be reused rather than sent to the dump.

ASG volunteers visit the home and spend a weekend first scouting the site for materials that can be reused, making an inventory list and then carefully extracting any bathtubs, lighting fixtures, fireplace mantles, hardware, tiles, doors, windows, columns and other items to be brought back to ASG for sale.

“We’ve kept several tons of material out of the landfill,” said Briggs.

On average, ASG collects materials from 20 homes a year and about a ton of materials from each home. This is roughly the weight of four adult male African elephants a year.

With most of the historic neighborhoods in Greensboro located close to downtown, the Bellemeade Street location has been a convenient setting for ASG.

Campus expansions have required the demolition of homes in the College Hill and Glenwood neighborhoods, while other homes in the Southside neighborhood are sometimes knocked down by the City due to substandard housing requirements.

“A really popular neighborhood now is Irving Park because some of the housing in that neighborhood is being demolished and replaced with larger houses, and the material in those homes is usually nice,” said Briggs ASG also helps to ensure that Greensboro continues to receive federal grants by adhering to the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966.

“In that law it states that government cannot destroy our historic resources without mitigation,” said Briggs. Mitigation can mean rerouting a road or planning a cell tower away from a historic site, but mitigation also includes preserving materials from historic sites in the way that ASG does.

“We help to keep the City in compliance with federal law,” said Briggs.

ASG depends on a network of 20 to 30 volunteers to help with the collection and upkeep of inventory. Cheryl Joines is the Store Manager and only paid staff person of the program who keeps track of the inventory.

According to Joines, the most popular items that people purchase from the showroom include plumbing fixtures, bathtubs, and windows. The showroom includes a few claw foot tubs with intricate details that could either match the features of an older bathroom or add a touch of character to a newer, more modern home. Windows and doors are popular with creative brides who are looking for vintage décor at their weddings.

With the rising popularity of Pinterest and DIY styles, many crafty customers have used items from the showroom to create new furniture. One individual used windows from the showroom to build a greenhouse.

“This is very Greensboro to recycle this material,” said Briggs. “Maybe we have some of that Scotch-Irish thriftiness about us, but we like to recycle here. We don’t want to see perfectly good materials thrown into a landfill.”

The amount of material at ASG will also make the move very labor intensive and expensive. One of the cast-iron bathtubs alone requires two to three people to carry it. “There is a lot of heavy material here,” said Briggs ASG hired a private moving company to assist with the labor requirements of moving everything and Briggs foresees that it will require a solid week of work from movers and volunteers to clear everything out of the two-story, 15,810 square foot building.

Briggs estimates that the cost of the move will be $15,000 to $20,000. “It’s a huge financial burden to our organization to move,” said Briggs.

Architectural Salvage plans to move to a new location on East Wendover Avenue. The move will push them away from historic neighborhoods near downtown, but for the space that ASG needs, the cost of rent would be too high.

Architectural Salvage must vacate their current location by June 15.

Having reconciled with the inevitability that the historic 300 Bellemeade St.

building will be torn down, PGI hopes that ASG will continue to have a steady flow of clients.

The new East Wendover location might not be as convenient, but Briggs is optimistic that Greensboro will still seek out Architectural Salvage Greensboro as a socially conscious resource.

“We are a conscientious city,” said Briggs. “Greensboro is green.” !

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