Local News

Durham neighborhood works to save dilapidated house from wrecking ball

Posted December 16, 2015 6:32 p.m. EST
Updated December 17, 2015 5:06 a.m. EST

— A decrepit, century-old house in the Old North Durham neighborhood was slated for demolition this week, but nearby residents have banded together to save and restore it.

Owner Stuart Cullinan said he bought the property at 204 E. Trinity Ave. with plans to renovate it himself, but he said it was too far gone.

"It became clear that this house couldn't be saved for various reasons," Cullinan said Wednesday. "It had suffered a substantial fire. The roof was damaged. It's my opinion that saving it is not a scenario that I can make work."

So, he decided to tear it down and build another house on the property, which is at the intersection of East Trinity and North Roxboro streets.

When neighbors learned the house was going to come down on Monday, they quickly moved to stop it. Three residents offered to buy the property from Cullinan.

"There's almost no house that's so far gone you can't save it," said John Martin, one of the prospective buyers, who has renovated seven or eight historic homes. "It's the question of, are you satisfied if you just make a little bit of money or even break even or lose $1,000? I can live with that."

Preservation Durham Executive Director Benjamin Filippo said many historic homes have been torn down over the years after succumbing to neglect from landlords. Preserving those that remain is important for the community, he said.

"What we will inevitably see is people tearing down and demolishing these homes and building high-end properties that will cost out people," Filippo said.

Cullinan said he plans to sit down after Christmas with the residents who submitted the offer to buy the home. Until everything is sorted, the demolition is on hold.