Owner of historic Greenville home fights to save landmark as city looks at potentially demolishing it

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) -The future of a local landmark here in the east is in question as a historic preservation commission met to discuss its potential demolition Tuesday night.

The mission for James Brown to save the Jacob Higgs House in Greenville is on as the city is looking to possibly tear it down.

“We see many properties go from rags to riches, or from bones to bronze,” Brown said. “All it takes is effort.”

The historic landmark located at 1112 Dickinson Avenue is viewed as a potential health hazard by some city officials, who say squatters have been setting fires inside the home.

The city’s historic preservation commission is now faced with deciding whether or not the house should stay and discussed possible options at their January meeting.

“It’s a really amazing history of this house and it deserves preservation,” said Andrew Morehead, Historic Preservation Commission Member. “The commission would want to work with anyone who’s interested in keeping it.”

The commission says the city had heard from only one of the owners of the house about the landmark but didn’t know Brown, who attended the meeting, was the other.

“We’d been told that they didn’t know who the other owner was,” Morehead said. “Now having clarity around who we’re going to try and work with is an exciting step because city staff can work with those folks.”

Brown hopes to save the house because for years his family used it as a safe haven for the homeless.

“People were able to come and live for a while to try and get themselves back on their feet,” Brown said.

City council recently voted 5-1 for the house, which’s been vacant for more than five years, to be demolished.

The city estimates it’ll cost over $300,000 to repair it, but Brown says he’ll do whatever is needed to save it.

“The city is looking to give Greenville a facelift, which eliminates all of the old,” Brown said. “When we go to our history, that’s where we get our knowledge and understanding about where you come from.”

No decision was made on the future of the historic house Tuesday.

The commission says the city will work with Brown and the other owner to come up with a plan to bring back and present to them at their March meeting.