Local News

Historic Oxford home threatened with demolition

Posted July 15, 2008

— The town of Oxford is threatening to tear down an historic property if the owner does not make plans to fix it up.

Mayor Al Woodlief said the home, at 217 College St., is a distraction and a danger in a neighborhood of fancy, older homes. He has given the property owner 30 days to contract to have the house repaired. If he can't deliver, Woodlief said, the city will demolish the old mansion.

The paint is chipped. Holes in the exterior provide safe harbor for bats and rodents, and the roof has caved in.

Jo Richards, who lives across the street, is concerned that the house is bringing down property values in the whole neighborhood. "It's an eyesore and it's a safety concern," she said.

Maureen Taylor, chairwoman of the Oxford Historic Preservation Commission, would like to see the property preserved. "It's a wonderful old house. It is on the national register of historic places," she noted.

The owner, Tom Watkins, could not be reached for comment. He does not live in town. He has a local phone number, but the voice mailbox is full.

The mayor is adamant that improvements be made. "We want it painted," he said. "We want the outside brought up right away."

Two men were spotted doing yard work at the house Tuesday. They said they were hired by Watkins.

Neighbors said it's a start on a project that's long overdue.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • oldschooltarheel Jul 23, 2008

    WOW - sounds like a great big HOA out there in the sticks. They really issue citations for height of grass? My neighbor had peelin(grossly peeling) paint on his house for several years - his hhouse, his business. He always has vehicles in different degrees of repair & tarp-covered stacks in his driveway - his property, his business. I think knowing or inquiring as to his finances is none of my business - I'm not planning to enter a business or romantic venture with him. None of my business. Outside my boundaries.
    These little periphery towns like Oxford & Sanford are so much more "fancy pants" than I'd have imagined (& a bit more publically entitled too). Guess they want to keep their son-in-laws busy doing that lawn care & tapping with that nailgun, trying to figure out how to work cul-de-sacs into their town development. WRAL - maybe y'all could link to some of those Oxford ordinances - they might be a hoot to read (wonder if there's a prohibition on walking your pig?)

  • just bored Jul 16, 2008

    I have been a neighbor in excess of 20 years and usually can ignore how someone maintains their property. But the owners of this house live out of town and have done next to nothing with the property in nearly 15 years since their mother's death, including that her two cars were sitting in the back yard up until a couple years ago. The family owns a lot of property in Granville County and does not lack finances for at least maintaining the property at a minimal standard. A lot of their property is rental or farm. They have sold pieces over the years but this was the family home. That they have been made offers, very decent for the condition of the property from my understanding and have refused to sell, does not help their defense to have allowed the property to have deteriorated to this point. At least slap a coat of paint on it, patch the holes and mow the yard once or twice a year.

  • NC is my home Jul 16, 2008

    If a house is on the national register of historic places they can't tear it down. Why don't the people threatening the structure really take pride in the history & seek assistance in restoring it. It could become a tourist attraction (& bring revenue into the area). The trouble with people who move in to an area, they don't care about the area, but the "property values" when they're ready to sell. Well-sell already & go on to your next property value! Sooner or later it will just be a rectangle six feet deep!

  • anne53ozzy Jul 15, 2008

    I live in Oxford and have for 15 years. This is not a new issue w this house. I received a notice years ago when I had been away and my grass was too high...The city gave me a period of time to remedy the matter or they would send in a contracted indivual to do so and bill me through my tax acct.
    Why is this not happening here?
    First and foremost this house is next to the Credle Elementary School....Nice place to let rodents breed!
    In addtion, there is a beautiful Victorian across from the library that has been in shambles on the exterior for decades.
    And is inhabited!!!!
    I love this town and wish the standards applied to some would be uniform, regardless of what appear to be longstanding ties to this community. PS Pls help us stop the Bio=Lab proposed for Granville County.
    the site is in close proximity to the numerous facilities for the mentally-ill, the "problem" youths and the federal prison complex, among others...including the Murdoch Center for children.....

  • iamforjustice Jul 15, 2008

    Be nice if they would fix it up just good enough for the homeless. Oxford has nowhere for the homeless to go. At least give them a place to shave, change clothes, maxipads, underwear, etc. The need a good hot bath and a good hot meal and then they can go to work. Kinda hard trying to get a job while hungry and stinky.

  • Adelinthe Jul 15, 2008

    Rather than demolishing it and charging him for the demolition, why don't they put their money where their mouth is and help him fix the thing up with the money they'd use to demolish it.

    Or better yet, wait until he owes enough on taxes, confiscate it and resell it to someone who'll take care of it.

    Tearing down our past can adversely effect our futures.

    God bless.

    Rev. RB

  • Tax Man Jul 15, 2008

    iamforjustice - NO, not only will they destroy his house, but they will charge him for the demolition and hauling off the debris. For a small house in Durham it cost my client about $8,000 and he lost his house due to disrepair. It would cost him about $20,000 to fix it up to meet the code. Now he has a vacant lot.

    This is a problem where homeowners do not keep up their property. If the owner will not sell it to the preservationists, it will likely be destroyed. And time is the enemy.

  • whocares Jul 15, 2008

    Ms. Taylor better get working she only has 60 days to save the house. The guy who owns it should be ashamed. I guess he is the same guy that owns the Carolina Inn in Hillsborough.

  • iamforjustice Jul 15, 2008

    If the city tears down this man's house do they pay him to put it back up? Or are they just taking his property. Explain this situation because I am at a loss here. Eminent domain is one thing but just out right demolishing is something totally different.

  • HappyGirl08 Jul 15, 2008

    Well, if they can just tear it down, you'd think they could take it over and fix it. Strange how the town has the power to do one thing but not the other.