A Modernist Passing: Death Of The Paschal House In Raleigh

Photo by Colin Campbell for the News & Observer

Photo by Colin Campbell for the News & Observer

Though praised by Frank Lloyd Wright, Paschal heirs tear down their iconic childhood home.

March 5, 2013 (Raleigh, NC) – Despite years of preservationists pursuing every conceivable option to save it, the 1950 George and Beth Paschal House, a Raleigh mid-century modern icon designed by James Fitzgibbon that even Frank Lloyd Wright praised, was suddenly destroyed on Friday, March 1.

Concerned preservationists were completely unaware that demolition was imminent. That very morning George Smart, founder and director of the non-profit Triangle Modernist Houses (TMH), along with Myrick Howard, President of Preservation North Carolina, and Raleigh architect Frank Harmon, FAIA, presented a petition to the City of Raleigh to have the Paschal house declared a Raleigh Historic Landmark.  Such designation would have put a “stay of execution” on any demolition.

As lead petitioner, Smart prepared the extensive documents and hand-delivered them on Friday, March 1, to City officials.  By noon he learned that, without public knowledge, the heirs obtained a demolition permit two weeks earlier and a backhoe was already on site that moment, knocking down the house.

The property will be subdivided into five lots. “We don’t have all the information yet,” Smart said, “but this appears not to be a straight sale. The heirs are partnering with a developer, Anderson Marlowe, to build five $2 million-plus McMansions. That’s not going to be easy in this economy, even in that neighborhood.”

“It’s a tragedy,” Frank Harmon told the Raleigh News & Observer that afternoon. “We’ve lost the greatest example of residential design in the last 60 years.”  The house was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1994.

“What’s really sad,” Smart added, “is that the heirs could have subdivided the land into four lots and walked away with $2- to $2.5 million five years ago, thus saving the house. And by now it would have been remodeled and loved by new owners.”

“It was an act of vandalism,” an irate Myrick Howard told the newspaper

To read the News & Observer’s full report on the demolition of the 1950 Paschal House: http://www.newsobserver.com/2013/03/01/2718520/demolition-of-modernist-raleigh.html

For a complete history of the house, including the many preservation efforts, go to http://www.trianglemodernisthouses.com/fitzgibbon.htm and scroll down to “1950.”

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