Greensboro City Council to consider green-lighting demolition of National Register home

Update, September 21, 2021: The house will be demolished. The City Council rubber-stamped the rezoning. For those who follow such things, council member Tammi Thurm was the only one who stepped out of line and voted against it.

The Kimrey-Haworth House was described as “endangered” when it was added to the National Register of Historic Places 30 years ago. But it’s never been as endangered as it is now. The Greensboro City Council will vote Tuesday evening on a rezoning proposal that would clear the way for the historic house to be demolished, along others on its block in the West Friendly Avenue-Muirs Chapel Road area, for a medical office building.

Medical office buildings can be built anywhere. There are some in the West Friendly-Muirs Chapel area already. But historic homes like the Kimrey-Haworth House, built around 1925, are increasingly rare. They can’t be replaced. The historic homes that would be demolished have greater value to the community than yet another office building. If the City Council says no to this developer, he can build his office building somewhere else and the community will get the same benefit from it. But if they say no to the Kimrey-Haworth House and its neighbors, those homes and their history be gone forever, and the value they bring to our community will be lost forever.

A little background on the house, from its National Register nomination:

“The ca. 1925 Kimrey-Haworth House, located at 5307 West Friendly Avenue in Greensboro, in a landscaped and wooded setting, meets Criterion C as a prominent and virtually intact example of the Italian Renaissance style of domestic architecture that enjoyed a brief burst of popularity in the 1910s and 1920s. The style is not widespread in early twentieth century North Carolina suburbs. While there are several stylish examples in the city’s earliest suburbs, now considered part of central Greensboro, the Kimrey-Haworth House is the only one of its type in the early twentieth century country suburb on the railroad line adjacent to Guilford College (NR, 1990) that was annexed by the City of Greensboro in the early 1970s.

“The Kimrey-Haworth House is associated with Guilford College because it was the home from 1928 to 1957 of Samuel Lee Haworth, a professor of religion at Guilford College and an active national Quaker leader who participated in the church’s missionary efforts abroad before World War II. The Kimrey-Haworth House recalls the rise of the American suburban ideal in Greensboro in the decades immediately preceding and immediately after World War I. It is an important and threatened example of the roomy, comfortable suburban, eclectic style dwelling that housed legions of middle-class North Carolinians who migrated to sylvan settings surrounding the state’s burgeoning cities in the 1910s and 1920s and defined the suburban life-style that persists into the present.”

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