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Meredith House Dodges Wrecking Ball

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The Meredith House, built in 1813, has received a stay of execution.

The second-oldest house in Jackson Ward, and one of the oldest in the city, is on the fast track to stabilization, says Building Commissioner Claude Cooper.

Originally slated to be torn down Nov. 15, the building's owner recently submitted emergency stabilization plans for the house, which has been designated a public hazard by the city. Cooper issued a permit to building owner Preddy R. Ray of the Housing Preservation and Development Corp. to begin work on the property at 133 W. Jackson St. Dec. 15.

He has until Feb. 1 to complete the work, Cooper says. Ray is expected to submit plans for "phase II" of the historical renovation in the next few months.

Stabilizing the house is only the first step, Cooper says. But it temporarily suspends recent wrangling between Ray and preservationists at the Alliance to Conserve Old Richmond Neighborhoods. After learning the house was slated for demolition, ACORN and the Historic Richmond Foundation stepped in and began lobbying the commissioner's office for more time. Ray said in a previous interview that ACORN was trying to take ownership of his property, a claim ACORN disputed.

Home to Richmond coach-maker William Meredith from 1856 to 1897, the house has fallen into such disrepair that the roof is fully exposed to the elements. Historians believe that William Mann, who also built the Hawes House on Leigh Street, built the house on West Jackson Street.

Because of the building's condition, Cooper says, his office turned around the permit application within a matter of days to hurry along the stabilization work. - Scott Bass

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