In April, the state of North Carolina declared the 96-year-old house at Fayetteville and Lawson streets to hold “statewide historic significance.”
Next week, N.C. Central University is going to see about tearing it down.
NCCU has asked Durham’s Historic Preservation Commission for a “certificate of appropriateness” to demolish the house. On Tuesday, the commission hears the case, which has put the university into an emotionally charged confrontation with neighborhood and preservation interests.
According to a statement released Friday by Denise Hester of the citizens’ Fayetteville Street Planning Group, the demolition request “stands in direct opposition to the community’s desire that its local historic district ... become an economic catalyst for national historic tourism.”
The house in question, at 1712 Fayetteville St., has historic significance because it was home to the late Alex Rivera, NCCU publicist and an acclaimed photojournalist of the civil-rights movement.
Rivera, who died Oct. 23 at the age of 95, sold the house to the university after retiring in 1997.
Rivera said he was mystified anyone thought the house “historic.”
“I don’t know how they could,” he told the News & Observer before his death. “I was sure by now it would have been torn down and something built on it.”
The house has fallen into disrepair and NCCU wants to use the property for campus expansion.
Its expansion plans, though, have provoked strong opposition from some residents, who have claimed they would displace more than 2,500 residents of the Dunstan, Lincoln Hospital and College View neighborhoods.
Carolyn Green Boone, a Fayetteville Street resident and a great-granddaughter of NCCU founder James Shepard, has been one of the most outspoken opponents.