Preservation Chapel Hill
The Groves House has been torn down
The property at 704 Gimghoul Road includes a house built in the 1920s for a Doctor Marshall in Chapel Hill. This structure is a modest colonial revival building that is a contributing structure to the Gimghoul local historic district and the Gimghoul National Register historic district.
Ernest and Gladys Groves, who founded the Groves Conference on Marriage and Family in 1934, moved into the house in the early 1930s. They constructed a garage c.1930 and small stone building to serve as a library and office c.1935. Later, both were converted to student rental cottages. Christina Simmons, Associate Professor of History and Women’s Studies at University of Windsor, notes that the Groves are significant people in North Carolina and US history. Ernest is considered the pioneer family sociologist and was the first to institute college-level marriage preparation courses. Gladys taught at UNC and a number of segregated African American colleges. Together they pioneered the marriage counseling movement and founded an organization dedicated to that in the 1930s.
Several residents recall that Andy Griffith rented the stone cottage from the Groves while a student at UNC. Griffith was born in Mt. Airy in 1926. He studied music at UNC and graduated in 1949. He then spent several years portraying Sir Walter Raleigh in The Lost Colony before going on to his more famous roles on The Andy Griffith Show and Matlock.
The house contributes to the significance and integrity of the local historic district. The “Design Guidelines for Chapel Hill Historic Districts” describes the district as a 1920s-1930s neighborhood in which Colonial Revival architecture is the dominant style. The house is an excellent example of Colonial Revival architecture, featuring a symmetrical facade that balances windows and a central door, accentuated front door with an entry porch, a transom light and sidelights flanking the front door, multi-pane windows that are grouped together, and a hipped roof with boxed cornices. The house also features exterior end chimneys partially enclosed by wings on each side of the house.
The house also contributes to the Gimghoul Piney Prospect National Register Historic District, designated in 1993. The neighborhood is described as "a small faculty subdivision of well-tended houses built in the 1920s and 1930s, predominantly in the Colonial Revival style." The home at 704 Gimghoul is described as a "2-story frame Colonial Revival style house with an entrance with a transom, sidelights and bracketted hood, double and triple wood casement windows, exterior end brick chimneys, wood shingled walls, and flanking 1-story wings."
A Gimghoul resident approached PCH and indicated that the new owners of 704 Gimghoul were considering demolishing all three structures on the property, which were believed to have been occupied by Andy Griffith in the late 1940s.
After some preliminary research, PCH contacted the property owners to discuss their plans for the property. The owners indicated they had not made any decisions, but were considering either a remodel or rebuild on the site. They empasized their desire for their home to fit in with the historic character of the neighborhood. PCH discussed the organizaton's role as an advocate for the preservation and rehabilitation of historic structures, especially those in Chapel Hill's historic districts; PCH's role as a consultant for rehabilitation projects; and the opportunity to receive a 30% state tax credit for a rehabilitation of the property at 704 Gimghoul. The owners indicated they would consider the information.
PCH and Gimghoul residents conducted additional research on the historic significance of the property.
The State Historic Preservation Office reviewed the research and determined the property is not eligible for designation of statewide significance.
The Chapel Hill Planning Department indicated that a case of Demolition by Neglect would be very difficult to pursue considering the turnover of ownership, the relatively short time the current owners have held the property, and the inherent difficulty of enforcing the demolition by neglect ordinance.
The owners contaced PCH to provide notification that they would be presenting a Certificate of Appropriateness to demolish all three structures at 704 Gimghoul at the March Historic District Commission Meeting. They also planned to present their proprosal for a new home on the site in courtesy review at that meeting. PCH expressed disappointment in the loss of a contributing structure within the district, but the owners indicated they were interested in having the stone cottage and the house relocated and asked for assistance from PCH. PCH agreed to assit with the relocation, as well as requesting permission to advertise the availability of the stone cottage through the PCH Endangered Places List and to document all three buildings, which the owners granted.
The Chapel Hill News published an article prior to the HDC meeting. PCH indicated to the reporter that state and local laws prohibit the denial of an application for demolition, so the organization is working with the property owners to document the property and relocate the stone cottage.
The owners postponed the Historic District Commission hearing on their Certificate of Appropriateness to demolish the three buildings.
The owners presented a proposal for courtesy review to the Historic District Commission outlining plans to renovate the house at 704 Gimghoul based on a new structural engineer's report on the building.
The owners put the property up for sale and asked PCH to assist with marketing.
The property was purchased by Virginia and Bob Buysse.
The owners received a Certificate of Appropriateness for renovations to the Groves House and cottages, supported by Preservation Chapel Hill.
The owners received a Demolition Permit from the Chapel Hill Historic District Commission and the house has been demolished despite Preservation Chapel Hill's best efforts to save it.