News Column

Owners of Church Street building told to fix it or tear it down

June 2, 2014

By Lynne P. Shackleford, Herald-Journal, Spartanburg, S.C.

June 02--City of Spartanburg building officials are giving the owners of the former Hammond Brown Jennings building on North Church Street an ultimatum: make needed repairs or demolish the building.

The owner, Arthur State Bank, has ordered an engineer's assessment of the property, but no decision has been made on what the next step will be, said Spartanburg attorney Ken Anthony, who represents the bank.

Advocates of historic preservation hope the bank will make the needed repairs or sell the property to a party that will. If demolished, the building would be the next on a long list of Spartanburg historic properties lost to a wrecking ball, said Donnie Love, a historic preservation architect who also sits on the city's Historic Architect Review Board.

"At a minimum, I think a number of people would be sad to see it go," Love said. "I would hope someone would take and do something with it and history has shown that the longer it is intact, the better the chances are to make it a viable project."

Built in 1912, the three-story building was known early as The Green Building for its association with Thomas Ambrose Green, an early Spartanburg real estate developer, according to documents from Spartanburg architect Martin Meek. Meek prepared an application to have the building placed on the National Historic Registry a few years ago, but the submission was denied because of significant modifications made to the building through the years and that there had been other modern buildings built between the property and downtown that it was difficult to make a historic link between the property and historic buildings downtown.

The building is an excellent example of the Commercial style, a style developed and evolved in the early 20th century due to technological advances in the building industry, according to Meek's application.

The building was home to Green's real estate business from 1912 to 1914, but was vacant later in 1914. From 1916 to 1924, the Minter Bobo funeral home occupied the building and was home to Hammond Brown Jennings furniture store by 1934. The building has changed owners several times since.

Love cited the extensive renovations made to the DuPre House and Duncan Park as projects made successful by partners who were willing to finance renovations and take special care to bring them back to life.

Meek also said he would rather see the building saved than demolished.

But, extensive renovations to the building are needed, said city Building Official Buddy Bush.

Bush said the building has been condemned as an unsafe structure, but isn't immediately in danger of collapse.

The roof is in bad condition, particularly in one corner, which has leaked severely, Bush said.

"Water has gone down into the building and caused damage to the floors all the way to the basement," Bush said. "That's one issue that to me, would take a lot of money to remedy."

In addition, there are exterior components such as loose brickwork and decayed oriented strand board (OSB) board that need to be remedied.

"From my understanding, the bank has tried to find a developer, but to this point, that hasn't happened," Bush said. "I'm going to give them a hard deadline on when the work has to be made."


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Source: Herald-Journal (Spartanburg, SC)

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