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Historic House May be History

City Building Commissioner Claude Cooper says his office started negotiating with the property owner, Preddy R. Ray of the Housing Preservation and Development Corp., to try to save the property. Those discussions are ongoing, Cooper says. But three weeks ago, he informed Ray's attorney that the city would proceed with demolition unless Ray took action. "The building is in a state of collapse," Cooper says.

ACORN is working to stop the bulldozers. "This has been going on for a long time," says Herring, who is frustrated with Ray. "People have tried to buy, and he doesn't want to sell; and there it sits, just rotting away."

The building was home to William Meredith, a coachmaker, from 1856 to 1897. It's believed to have been built by William Mann, who built the Hawes House on Leigh Street. ACORN is willing pay a structural engineer to complete an evaluation, Herring says, and help Ray apply for grant monies that may be available.

But Ray says he isn't interested in ACORN's help. He says he submitted paperwork for a building permit in June. "We're doing everything we can to preserve and renovate this building," he says.

Also, Ray says he is unaware of the city's plan to demolish the property.

And he says ACORN is at fault for misleading people about the state of the building and his efforts to revitalize it. "The ACORN people are full of whatever they want to be full of at this point," he says. —Scott Bass

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