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Demolition request denied by HPC

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By Jamison Hooks staff writer

The Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) denied a demolition request for a deteriorating home, a historic African-American property located at 477 E. Washington Street, owned by Seaborn Johnson. The Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) met to consider Johnson’s appeal. “I want to get rid of it. I hate to see it like that. I was raised there but it has deteriorated,” said Johnson. The HPC considered the proposal and weighed their concerns of demolishing a home of historical significance. HPC staff member Ken Kocher described the poor conditions of the home but mentioned that the core of the structure consisting of two rooms might be salvageable. “I think we all realize the condition is so bad that there’s not a whole lot of options but, I personally have an issue with us losing another historical African-American property,” said HPC member Flynn Clyburn. HPC members denied Johnson’s request to demolish the structure, but acknowledged the structure as incapable of earning an economic return. By doing so, the demolition of the structure has been delayed for six months in hopes of finding an interested party to relocate the building. When opened to public comment, Jack Miles from the Morgan County Landmarks Society had a suggestion for the HPC. “When I read this, my imagination flew and I got so excited. I can see the core of that building being moved to a site that makes it as viable as where it sits today maybe even more viable. My suggestion is that the core of the building be moved on the land adjacent to the Richter Cottage,” said Miles. “The 400-500 square feet is not much, but it might be used as office space or to show students and the community how we made candles or weaving. My mind see’s this as a golden opportunity,” said Miles. If no alternatives are found by the end of the six-month period the HPC may issue a COA for demolition.

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